It's been a week since the day when Canadians gathered around the table with the people who look most like themselves--the proverbial nuclear families and clans of relatives (tolerate them at all costs).
For me, gratitude that I could bring into my midst the "other"-- people and ideas unlike those of my heritage--was what I felt most. Improvement of conditions for those whose lives are most unlike mine--far more lacking in the basic needs of food, shelter and security--who I couldn't invite was also present in also an intention upon which to act..
I am grateful that, at this time of year, I can retrieve the traditional knowledge of the Korean autumnal holidays of Chusok--a celebration of the ancestors with visitations to the villages and burial mounds of the generations gone by and give thanks for what my forefathers, immigrants to this country--wheat and apple farmers in the west and east--did to turn whatever soils they found underneath their feet into soft comfort for growth where they stopped on their long journeys.
I have knowledge of the traditions of gratitude of the peoples of the long time who cared for and sustained the land and its creatures for thousands of years, peoples who remember and give thanks for each plant and animal they take nourishment from over the course of all the moons.
I am able to ask questions of my homestay student from Saudi Arabia about his country's traditions around giving thanks. I also learn his disbelief at why most Saudi Arabian students are denied visas to study in Canada, even those with a minimum of $200,000 at their disposal to guarantee their 'rightness" in the minds of the powers that be. Any racial profiling going on here, d'ye think?
It is also the eve of the one week before we tell each other, through our vote, what we want Canada to be--a country that fears our fellow homo sapiens because they dress, look and give thanks as a scary otherness we are encouraged by our national leader to see them as, instead of their potential to enrich our lives by teaching us their ways and broadening our understanding. We are also the otherness to them and how are our behaviours striking them?
We're just one species in a world of millions. Why are we--homo sapiens-- so greedy as to assume the myriad of authorities we fight about as just one species lording it over all other creatures?
The First Nations and Inuit who interacted with us, the immigrants to these lands, spoke that "White men speak with a forked tongue." What a beautiful description of people of the lie...and that we were and still are when we fail to realize we are all treaty people here living on unceded territories.
I spent part of today with CBC radio programming and listened to the full range of human understanding, or lack of, from the erudite clarity of the chair of the group who sent an open letter to the Globe and Mail condemning the current government for actions endeavouring to create a phantom enemy of the people of the Moslem faith during our country's most crucial time when we are confronted with having to witness whether Canada will continue on the same trajectory or be catapulted to another way under a government with different values, hopefully ones that endeavor to heal and build a nation where we are all the otherness living together in what John Ralston Saul has termed "a metis nation" whose foundations are based on the Indigenous ideas of negotiation and fairness.
The political device of "the silent tent" comes to mind from one of the Indigenous confederacy's traditions. When the leaders of the Nations of a region met, they would first go into the silent tent and remain there in silence for three days. It's reminiscent of the Hindu meditative practice of sitting face to face with another human being and looking into his/her eyes for a long period. And what if the indigenous talking circle of listening with no cross talk were the way instead of antagonistic debates? Or if new Canadians sat down with First Nations and listened to each others' stories? Imagine if the leaders in this election were to undertake any of these practises. In a new relationship with First Nations at the tables of government at all levels, these ways of wisdom and understanding might become part of a better way.
Then I listened to very extreme and troubling comments from a spokesperson for the Trans Pacific Partnership who stated that Canada would be better off to only grow soy and corn (which are both GM crops controlled by corporations like Monsanto) rather than our own food. I kid you not. He flatly said that a crop like apples was useless and that we should import all our food from other countries. I felt my ancestral DNA shake and go on the warpath. My forebears were apple breeders and growers in the Annapolis Valley since the late 1700s. Here was one human stating that we would be better off if all fruit and vegetable farming was gone and we just grew genetically modified corn to put in processed foods to maximize corporate profit.
Then the warnings of two leaders in our midst hit me in the gut as the very truth of the missions of these multinationals who care for nothing other than their quest for world domination churned inside understanding the full impact of their lack of respect for the traditions of people of any culture. Both the journalist and author, Chris Hedges and the Mi'kmaq lawyer and activist Dr. Pam Palmeter have been writing and speaking these words: look at the historical treatment and present conditions of First Nations peoples in the west and see how we, the general public average citizen will be and already is being treated with edicts like those from the mouths of TPP corporate talking heads like "Growing apples is useless. Canada should only grow corn and soy" -- the exact echo of "Indigenous ways are savage. We will educate them in our ways and ban theirs."
Without an ounce of respect the Europeans did everything they could to destroy the indigenous cultures after the people who had been here for so many millennia had helped them, the interlopers, survive. Now the corporatists have the same position on everything that concerns people--keeping the soil fertile, stopping global warming, building respect for all cultures, providing nutritious foods and holistic health care, keeping our ecosystems and fellow species intact and thriving, saving the bees from neonicotinoids--everything that represents the truth, goodness and beauty that nature provides. They just say it is useless and in the way of their profit margin.
With a ratified TPP we will continue to lose any remnant we have left of our sovereignty. Our standards and protection agencies will be swatted out of boardrooms and will lie bleeding on the floor of huge lawsuits against our country's sovereign decisions.
Yes, on this eve, I have much on my mind and in my heart, but I refuse to live in fear, but, instead, choose the faith that is love, not just for humans who look like me around a turkey-centred table, but for humans and all species with whom I also share DNA. That is the table I want to sit at; one set with the potential to resist these dark forces veiled as ideas of progress, removal of human rights and "moving forward". Follow the money of these forward movements and I believe you'll find out where they lead: into the belly of the Beast.
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