Two hours. That’s how long it took me on Saturday night to drive into Toronto. My most wonderful friend Rochelle, her wife Amy and their 13 year old son were hosting me and my son Rory for a birthday dinner. The roads were slick and slippery, and when I reached the Don Valley Parkway, it lived up to its nickname of “Don Valley Parking Lot”. I sat quietly in my car, not moving, trying to be patient.
By the time I reached Rochelle’s, I was weary, but excited about the standing rib roast waiting for me inside. And when the door opened, love from my friends and family poured out the front door, enveloped me and carried me up the stairs. In a heartbeat, I had a glass of wine in my hand, been hugged by everyone in the house, and the insanity of the drive had vanished.
We enjoyed an amazing meal, with oohs and aahs about the incredible “roast beast”. We stayed at the table post-meal and solved the problems of the world. Where to start? First, we tackled what we were each reading, and what books intrigued us. Next, we moved on to movies and TV shows, including Star Wars and Dr. Who (naturally). But try as we might, we were unable to avoid the elephant in the room. “He who shall not be named” kept surfacing and we finally succumbed to talking about Trump’s first week in office.
I imagine that many thousands of people across the planet were doing the same thing. Trying not to talk about Trump and the US, and what the future holds for us, but eventually ending up voicing concerns, anger, and fears about what direction he is taking that most powerful country.
I said how, on the morning of the election results, Jaime called me in tears, not believing that he could have been elected. Rory talked about involvement in politics, and what that would mean. Rochelle echoed that, noting how friends had suggested that she might be someone who could throw her hat in the ring, so to speak, in Toronto/Ontario/Canada to make a difference. As a woman, who is Jewish, and in a same sex marriage, she has the cards stacked against her if she lived in the US. But here, she is just another incredible, wonderful and compelling individual who can make a difference.
But politics isn’t for her. So how to make that difference? What can any of us do?
Politics reminds me of nursing…for some, thankfully, it is a calling. For me, it is intolerable. Politics falls into the same category. So where does that leave me? What can I do to be a voice, to speak out, to make a difference in this time of political, social and cultural chaos? If I’m not entering politics, and I am simply Susan Gesner from Belfountain, what can I do to help the world be a better place?
I will do what I always do, but even more. I will make a conscious and mindful effort to look at everyone I meet as an individual, to speak to them, to learn about them, to value them. People will know that I see their value, that I am curious about them, and that they make my life better by knowing them. Age, colour, race, religion – nothing like that matters at all. If I can do that, perhaps those people I meet with do the same, and we will become a huge, growing snowball of consideration, attention and value.
I challenge each of you reading this (and usually I have 2 or 3 people who at least click on my words) to do the same. Be sure your friends and family know you are doing this, because they may choose to follow suit. Make the snowball grow, and we can blanket the world, or at least our part of it, in goodness and caring. Margaret Mead, perhaps the most famous anthropologist in the world, helped us learn about anthropology’s holistic vision of the human species. It was she who said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
To quote another powerful thought leader of our recent history, Winnie the Pooh said “You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
I’m not going to stay in my corner of the Forest. I am going to continue to go beyond, to meet and talk and value and share. I know many of my friends will do the same. Let’s try to be the change this world needs right now.