I’ve been tempted to write this post many times these past 2 years.
In Spring 2020, when the pandemic was new and terrifying and death surrounding us. Our leaders just as scared and clueless as us but committed to playing the Game, that stupid, pointless, dangerous, harmful game of power and politics and posturing. Even the good politicians are tainted. Beware the Ides of March.
In Summer 2020, as the world rose up in outrage for George Floyd’s murder amongst many other racially motivated horrors. When the tear gas and riots and police brutality against protestors was at an all time high. We marched and we half-believed change must happen even as we listened to our politicians and our media gaslight us, worldwide.
In Summer 2020, when there was a swatch of anonymous sexual harassments/assault accusations on social media against various male personalities in Quebec. Cancel culture meet defamation meet a broken justice system meet women’s rights meet unregulated social media, with a sprinkle of unacknowledged racial undertones and economic power dynamics thrown into the powder keg. None of the men were brought to justice, though several had their careers ruined/damaged, and we will never know who were the true aggressors vs the ones getting Johnny Depped. Justice was not served, but scars were freely distributed to anyone who got close to that social debate, willingly or not.
In Fall 2020, the lead up and fall-out of the American Election. I’ll be honest, I can’t remember much of that season other than the constant anxiety and desire to weep. Feeling like my brain was breaking a bit more each day, as things that should never have been said were freely bandied about and the concept of debate forgotten. Everyone, everywhere, stating opinions as facts, the ability and/or willingness to think critically and engage in true discussion long gone, on all sides. Knowing that we, outsiders, were watching the collapse of democracy even as we were being reassured by all parties that it wasn’t the case. It is hard to not go insane watching an entire country gaslight itself and the entire planet.
On January 6, 2021.
In Winter 2021, when the Quebec government mandated curfews to fight Covid19 – only the 2nd time in Quebec’s entire history that curfews were mandated, the first time being during the height of the FLQ’s terror reign. For 5 long months, the Quebec government ignored science and shackled its people under the guise of protecting us while refusing to debate the other important means of controlling the pandemic, such as its inability to logistically manage the vaccination program. More gaslighting but this time mixed with the tangible, real, physical curtailment of our freedoms.
In Fall 2021, when the Canadian government launched the most expensive federal elections in the history of our country. Why? A power play that backfired and resulted in a minority government and the contempt of the entire population. I didn’t vote, even though I knew that would make me complicit by giving permission to our politicians to treat us like fools. I was too tired, so tired, just exhausted by life.
In Winter 2022, as Putin did what we all knew he would do but had been pretending wasn’t his plan since the annexation of Crimea. The Western World was outraged: War was back in Europe! The outrage, the hand-wringing, the fear, the self-righteousness, the whiteness. The hypocrisy. The silence from South America, Africa, Middle East, and Asia, a silence the Western World either didn’t notice or figured was due to the stupidity and ignorance of all these countries failing to appreciate the gravity of the situation, and never once wondering whether maybe these countries were sitting back and watching the settling of centuries of bad karma.
It has been 2 days since Roe v. Wade was overturned.
I wish I could say truthfully that what I feel is anger. But I don’t. I don’t even feel much grief. What I feel is shame. Deep, painful, unbearable shame: as life got harder, I stopped fighting, slipping into passivity and acceptance of whatever fabricated version of the status quo was least upsetting to me in any given moment.
In 2015, we wept for Muhammed Ali, and all he had taught us, that we’d forgotten as a society. I reminded myself in 2017 of the importance of remembering the lessons learned by my grandparents that survived WWII – that life is really about our daily bread, nothing more. In 2016 I wrote “I choose beauty”, committing myself to a life where I would seek out beauty because I believed that would be a way to avoid getting dragged down into the abyss of scarcity and fear and anger that was threatening to engulf the world. I wrote a similar post again in 2018, this time committing myself to celebrating the beauty in myself as well as that which surrounded me.
Rather than lean into the excruciating pain that is the price of having been born, I’ve tried to anesthetize myself, numbing myself, and dimming my own light. That is why I stopped blogging in 2019 – I convinced myself I would be better off if I censured my own voice; isn’t that what a serious professional career woman would do? Rather than explore the messiness & privilege that comes from having been gifted with a voice that people are drawn to – owning my values, navigating the privacy owed to the people in my life, figuring out whether what I have to say will make a positive impact in this world – I chose to silence myself because it seemed simpler. And it was, but it came at a terrible cost: the knowledge that I was willing to betray myself in exchange for a cheap substitute for peace.
Do I think my silence and self-censure are the reasons that Roe v. Wade got overturned? That systemic racism is stronger than ever? That the power imbalances grow greater with every day? That democracy is failing? That our world is scarier for our children than the one we were born into? Not directly, no. But indirectly? Sure.
I believe our world is a reflection of our collective choices. I believe in the power of everyday courage. Every time someone lives with integrity, regardless of their circumstances, it creates a ripple effect of joy, love, compassion and honor. Every time someone chooses to turn inward, towards fear, selfishness, isolation, disconnection, it gives permission for others to do the same. What is disconnection but an absence of love?
I am ashamed because I’ve actively modeled a lifestyle where selfishness is the norm. I’ve chosen cynicism over courage. I privileged my day-to-day comfort over anything, really – all the while being oblivious to the decadent privilege of even having that choice. In denying my own humanity, I’ve denied all humanity. It is people like me that make the current world events possible. I’m a facilitator, seduced by the lie that I can’t possibly make a difference.
I’m tired of this shit. Fed-up of being unhappy, ashamed of myself and dismayed with the world around me. Grossed out that my capitulation makes me as good as a pawn in the stupid, dangerous games of our world leaders and institutions. I can’t take it anymore.
May this be the final call to arms, a rallying cry to live fully and with intention. To lean into the discomfort of my privilege as a white, professional, North American, female, with all the responsibilities and power that life entails. To commit each day to acting with grace, compassion, kindness, humility and connection. To leaving the world better than I found it. To giving more than I take. To continuously educating myself and actively participating in society and grassroots communities. To show up for my friends and family, and to love deeply & selflessly. To never dimming my light again, and to encouraging everyone around me to do the same. The world needs each of our unique lights, shining as brightly as we may.
Who’s with me?
For anyone else looking to embrace the challenge of living fully, I recommend the following books:
- The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown
- Rising Strong, Brené Brown
- Untamed, Glennon Doyle
- Heart Talk, Cleo Wade
- Educated, Tara Westover
- Maybe You Should Talk to Somebody? Lori Gottlieb
- Less, Andrew Sean Greer