Letter to the editor: U.S., as did Canada, must embrace inclusiveness

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…” Words borrowed from Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities” summarize my two electoral experiences of the last year, one here in the U.S., the other just north across the border in Canada.
The best of times occurred in October 2015 when I happened to be in Montreal on the eve of Justin Trudeau’s unexpected upset of Steven Harper’s long tenure in office. In his victory speech Trudeau noted, “We know in our bones that Canada was built by people from all corners of the world, who worship every faith, who belong to every culture, who speak every language.” A few months later he personally greeted Syrian refugees at the airport, handing them warm winter overcoats and declaring “you are safe at home now.”
In dramatic contrast this week presented me with the disappointment of Donald Trump’s election. I need not contrast his attitudes toward Syrian refugees and inclusiveness in general.
My point is not to make invidious comparisons or suggest that all of us who are somewhat progressive in our thinking move to Canada. It is rather to point out that Canada just cycled through a long spell of governmental rule characterized by meanness and anger, yet it has emerged, slowly and belatedly indeed, to embrace inclusiveness. It has also assumed a new and high profile on the world stage.
We may temporarily, or even for two miserable electoral cycles, be condemned to live through difficult times. The degree to which damage is done will depend to some degree on how we push back to minimize harmful policies. Those of us who consider ourselves progressives may have to shift our mode of thinking from dreaming of opening the gates of paradise with enlightened policies to a strategy of bolting the gates of hell to minimize damage. We may have to measure our “success” not in forward movement, but in reducing the number of giant steps backward.
But I think that we face an equally profound challenge. We need to identify ourselves as the leaders of a movement wrapped in tranquility, peace of mind and even joy in inclusiveness. We must avoid wearing black arm bands of martyrdom and mourning. That will be hard for denizens of a state where so many flaunt their politics on their bumper-stickers, if not on their sleeves.
But if we can demonstrate the higher quality of life and daily satisfaction that comes with inclusiveness, and gentleness embracing one another and the earth, then we can keep the door to change open and the vision of a positive and very inviting future alive. And it is a positive image that we must project. We will fail if we are perceived as angry and vindictive, just waiting for our chance to turn the political tables.
We have time to discover and groom our own Justin Trudeau. And we have time to listen to, and assist those angry citizens who voted-in the new regime, and to help them achieve the security and stability they need to once again be trusting and inclusive individuals. This we can do, even while placing strategic padlocks on the gates to hell.
It is difficult to be patient and humble now, to think in terms of electoral cycles or even decades. But we must do so.
Randy Kritkausky

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