Sunday, November 13, 2016

On hope, despair, Remembrance, Cohen, Kishkan...on November 11, 2016

Dear Friends,
Do not despair on this dark day. Instead, read this wonderful essay by Theresa Kishkan, whose novella, Winter Wren, is one of the finest books I've read lately. She blogs daily from her forest home on the B.C. coast and this one is particularly elevating and magnificent re: Leonard Cohen and the US election.
So do not let any bullies, those larger than life on our TV screens, lurking in packs in our schoolyards or smearing hatred on the internet as anonymous arbiters of taste, get us down. Nasty, mean people are deeply insecure humourless cowards. This is my less poetic and final response to this election.

Be even kinder, more welcoming, and helpful to the vulnerable, in word and deed. Defy hateful ignorance of all kinds. Speak up and name it for what it is. Rise above the crass, the petty and the corrupt and take the high road always. Be as fine a human being as you can be and do not succumb to despair. Transform ugly reality with your art, your daily work, and your love no matter what. Shock wears off, anger is self-destructive and denial is a self-induced state of limbo. I vow I will not obsess about the Ugly American whose "values" are utterly deplorable. That gives away my own power, my peace of mind, and severs my own brain and heart from my higher self. Desiderata and all that.

Today, instead, I remember my funny, smart, outspoken Dad who served in an Edmonton regiment for five long years of his youth in WW2 and who met my half-starved beautiful Mom in a celebratory street dance in Schiedam, Holland. Today I remember the incomparable Leonard Cohen who rose above the usual nay-sayers to offer his wisdom to the world, a world which actually heard him, Hallelujah!, and celebrated those words of wisdom, Bonus! Long live Leonard Cohen!

Understanding=empathy=peace. That is my mathematical equation for today. Numbers have never been my forte especially when merged with any attempt at analysis of the popular vote vs electoral seat results or in Canada, federal and provincial riding boundaries. Let's take heart in victories, small and great, like the very recent fourteen (14!!) year court challenge by the BC Teachers Federation vs the provincial government which finally ruled that teachers deserved the smaller classroom sizes they asked for and which the court back-dated to 2002. This was, of course,  when they first challenged the numbers due to extremely difficult working conditions, especially in cities and also in small K-12 schools I've worked in, schools populated by many first languages other than English and students with extremely varied intellectual and physical capabilities. A better quality public education means more children helped to reach their potential by less stressed-out teachers, which leads to deeper understanding. And learning in an environment where many diverse children are able to contribute fully, and are heard by peers and teachers and support staff, where bullying is called out promptly, where art and music classes are not the first to be scrapped, teaches empathy and non-violent expression which leads to tolerance which leads to peaceful, productive, talented and altogether fine human beings, of that there is little doubt.

So take heart, respect your own sacrifices and those of others and go forth willingly into the fray! Or the ocean spray in my case, all the very best, Caroline