Yesterday afternoon I participated in the Women’s March here in Toronto and last night I engaged in a political conversation thread on Facebook; two things I’ve never ever done before nor imagined I’d ever do.
Over the past few months I, like so many others, have felt anxious and afraid. While walking home on the evening of the US election back in November I was talking to a friend on the phone, expressing the overwhelming sense of doom I was feeling. He assured me that there was nothing to worry about, Hillary was going to win. We texted all evening as the results began coming in and when even his positivity dwindled I went to bed, wanting to delay the inevitable news until morning.
In the months since I’ve sat alone in my bed crying at things like Hillary’s concession speech, Obama’s farewell, Joe Biden’s presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony. I’ve read countless articles and op-eds, watched interviews and news reports in an attempt to understand what’s happened and why.
I’ve been forced to recognize that I live in a very liberal bubble. Quite frankly I like it that way, but if the last few months have taught me anything it is that this is a luxury no one can afford anymore.
On Friday morning, the day of Trump’s inauguration, I was taking the streetcar and overheard two men talking about how much Trump has already done for America and how smart and well-spoken Paul Ryan is. One of them went on to say “Thank God there’s not a woman going in there” (referring to Hillary and the White House). Overhearing that conversation I experienced a very visceral understanding of both blood boiling anger and the paralysis of being tongue tied. I got off the streetcar shortly after in a fog of rage wishing I could have thought of something intelligent to snap back at them with.
That conversation is also what made me reckon with the reality that we could experience the same hellish nightmare here in Canada if we’re not careful. With Kevin O’Leary having entered the race for Conservative Party leadership we could, as someone put it on Twitter, become the bad Canadian re-make of what’s happening in the US.
After yesterday I feel more empowered than ever to do what I can to participate in shaping a different outcome.
What exactly can I do? At this point I honestly don’t really know, but I’m ready to find out. This is the beginning of a new education for me. I’m committed to learning more about both the Canadian and international political landscape and the important issues at hand. I want to broaden my understanding so that, at the very least, I can ask more intelligent questions. I want to educate myself on what I can do to have an impact on the leaders in my community, province and country so that I can participate in taking action.
The Women’s March yesterday was a motivating step in the right direction. This week I’ll be attending a public lecture at Ryerson University called “What’s the Matter with America?” Thomas Frank, a well-known American author and political analyst explains Donald Trump’s election and what it means for the next four years. I very much welcome suggestions, information and wisdom on this so please comment below or reach out via email – firstname.lastname@example.org – I’d love to hear from you!