Saturday, December 3, 2016

First They Came …


[First They Came is a protest poem written by Martin Niemöller during the Nazi rule of Germany. He ultimately spent seven years in a concentration camp for his views.] 

When Trump became the US president-elect on November 8, I was confused. How did this happen? And more importantly: what do I do about it? As I watched protests spring up on the American streets I felt a certain futility and, I must admit, fear. The potential of violence scared me. The response to the latter question soon rolled off my lips: I am not an American. There is nothing I can do. 


First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Recently several Muslim-Canadians have been assaulted in eastern Canada. Many say it is a result of the emboldened Alt-right. Of course, I am outraged but when I ask myself what I should do, I whisper: they are too far away for me to provide support.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.


When racist flyers were distributed in Richmond, the second batch in a few weeks, I thought, yes, it is time, I should go and stand with the Asian community. Too bad, I cannot. I have to go to work.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.


A few days ago, the federal government pronounced the death toll for Southern Resident Killer Whales with its approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and the resultant seven-fold in tanker traffic. I felt betrayed and angry. But I didn’t march and the protest letters to my MPs have yet to be composed.

And just yesterday, that same government suggested 2019 might be too soon for electoral reform, that “it would be ‘irresponsible’ to go ahead with the plan before the next election.”

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.


*  *  *

Timothy Snyder, a history professor at Yale, offers some practical advice for Americans facing four years of Trumpism. He’s derived twenty lessons from the rise of fascism, Nazism and communism in the twentieth century that are not only applicable to the States but to citizens in any country to help keep their government in check.  Click here for a summary on each point.


1. Do not obey in advance.

2. Defend an institution.


3. Recall professional ethics.


4. When listening to politicians, distinguish certain words.


5. Be calm when the unthinkable arrives.


6. Be kind to our language.


7. Stand out


8. Believe in truth.


9. Investigate.


10. Practice corporeal politics.


11. Make eye contact and small talk.


12. Take responsibility for the face of the world.


13. Hinder the one-party state.


14. Give regularly to good causes, if you can.


15. Establish a private life.


16. Learn from others in other countries.


17. Watch out for the paramilitaries.


18. Be reflective if you must be armed.


19. Be as courageous as you can.


20. Be a patriot.

 

 

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Friday, November 25, 2016

The Wish



Too often I hear a whisper
deep within,
I wish.

I stop before the hush of words
finds release upon a willing tongue.

What can I wish for when the rain,
just beginning, finds my nose
among all others?

How can I long for more
when the cedar bough sky
dances above
and the air,
a quiet song of love,
embraces my heart and the earth,
beneath my feet,
offers rest from weary travels?

Are not the waters that sweep the shores enough nor
the peace of a quiet tree before the sun arises?

What other place but where I stand, tempers my soul
with the grace of the squirrel
who knows no longing?

I wish, I wish
to be …

Here.
Only here.




 If you like this blog, please "like" my FaceBook page and get notices on your timeline when a new piece is posted. 

Also check out my newest blog, the Modern-Day Renaissance Woman where you will find excerpts my new book, Notes from the Bottom of the Box.