The Best Policy

Knitters, thank you for the time and space to think about what to say here, and thank you too for the absolutely polite, kind and respectful conversation in the comments on the last post. It was a stunning display of civility in the face of some pretty uncivil approaches elsewhere. I’ve always thought of this space like my virtual living room, and I am very grateful when that’s how you all think of it too, like a gigantic knitting party where we don’t say anything in the comments that we wouldn’t say in person, while looking the other human in the eyes with the whole group looking on.

I respect all of you. I think that’s clear, and I’ll always be interested in your points of view, and appreciate that you are not the same as me – not even those of you who voted the way I would have, were I American, and entrusted with the privilege. I think honesty is the best policy, and you’d see though me after this many years anyway, so I won’t pretend that I am not disappointed in the outcome, much the way I’m sure some of you who are interested in our politics were disappointed when Canada chose the opposite direction.

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada.  I think of my Grandfather all day long, and I held his memory especially close to me during the minutes of silence. It’s also Veteran’s day, and since I’m here in the US for the Strung Along retreat, I’m really noticing how different the two days are. All day I’ve heard “Happy Veteran’s Day!” and I have to tell you, I was initially horrified. In Canada, we don’t put the word “Happy” in front of Remembrance Day. It’s a day of mourning, and the day we express the sadness we feel that war or fighting was necessary. That’s how my grandfather felt, he wasn’t at all proud of what he had to do. He thought the war he fought was terrible, and horrible, and…. necessary.  There is no celebrating in Canada today, just sad somber faces at the Cenotaph, poppies, gratitude for the sacrifices, and two minutes of silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

You can imagine then, with this being our vision of the day, how I felt when people here told me that Veteran’s Day and Remembrance Day were the same thing, and then saw sales, banners, parties and cupcakes, I thought (since I am being honest) that it was… wrong. Fine. There’s no other way to say it. I thought it was flip, and too lighthearted and I couldn’t understand it at all, and I tell you what, I didn’t like it either. Then I figured out that it’s not the same thing at all. Other than the fact that the two events both have to do with Veterans (sort of) that the point of them isn’t the same at all. They’re totally different, and that makes it not jerky at all to say Happy Veteran’s Day.

Then I started thinking about the election, and I decided that the same way that making a batch of Veteran’s Day cupcakes looks like move only someone dead inside would make, that’s only true if you think it’s the same as Remembrance Day (when, for the record, there are no sales or cupcakes or parties… at all. “Remembrance Day Party” doesn’t get a single result on Google. Not one.) I was gutted about the election of someone I think is neither respectful nor kind, and I wondered if maybe I just don’t get it. I’m certainly in no position to fully grasp the thing.  I do know that my ethics being what they are, it is not possible for me to think that President-Elect Donald Trump is a good person, and that is still true if I disregard the media entirely, and only listen to the actual words that came out of his actual mouth.  We simply are not in agreement on a human level, all politics aside.

Most of my disappointment around the election happened when I assumed that most people who voted for Donald Trump agreed with him. I was sad, because I thought that a person who voted for him voted for all the things he said, and agreed with them. I know that I’ll probably have a hard time explaining this, I’ve been looking for the right words all day, but over the last few days, as I listen to and talk with Americans, I’ve come to understand that many people who voted for Donald Trump see it differently. Some of them were single issue voters, and the way the feel about one issue defines where their vote goes, regardless of the candidates other positions. Some of them are heartbroken that all his views came in one package, because they know that he shouldn’t have spoken that way about women, or people who have faiths different from their own,  but they did what they thought was right because that one issue was so important to their heart. Others were concerned about something else – things I understand less well, but they are well aware of the things he said and did, but feel the way about him that my grandfather felt about war. That voting for him was terrible, and horrible, but necessary, and I’m doing my level best to understand them. I don’t now, but they talk like good people, so I’m listening respectfully.

The last group is the one that I thought was the largest, and actually seems like it might be the smallest. People who chose him not despite the many hateful things he said, but because of them. People who are racist. People who are bigots. People who are mysogynistic and sexist, and liked the things he said.  I can neither listen to them, nor respect them, and thankfully, it looks like there aren’t very many of them either.

I’m going to end this now, and tell you that I really waffled about whether to write about this or not. I decided to do it because in the end, I think a big part of the solution to the way everyone feels about each other is kindness, tolerance and understanding (except for that last group, nobody needs to tolerate that sort.) I also was impressed with the way that you’ve all been talking to each other, and I trust you to continue that. Silence just didn’t seem right, and I wonder if deciding not to try and talk, listen and understand is part of what got everyone so mad in the first place.

Peace out, I love you all. Go do something nice for someone. It will help no matter who you are.