Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hope, fear and hope from across the 38th Parallel.

The bit below was a response to this election post/thread on Echidne of the Snakes. Antijen speaks for a great many people; myself among them.

Eight years ago, I was casually cynical about politics, but still had reason to think that most people (and politicians) were well intentioned and had some principles. In January 2001, I moved to the US and GWB took office. Since then, almost every news story has been of corruption and the destruction of civil liberties, environmental protections and the ability of the government to even function. Now that Obama has won, I am mostly relieved that we have averted another diaster...and starting to dare to hope for more.

I was inspired to do some thinking aloud, and realized that it had expanded to a point that I either needed to be actually blogging there, or post it here. And indeed, it would have been quite inappropriate to post it there as a comment.


antijen, that was a perfect summation of these last eight years for me. I moved to the US in 2000. My wife and I left in September fearing the consequences of what could happen, having been devastated by economic and medical issues that should never have become issues. And frankly, this fight for the soul of your nation has taken a toll upon me. Note that I say "your nation." I am a dual citizen in fact and law. But it's emotional truth has evaporated. In this fight I've lost my ability to really care about the fate of all citizens of the United States.

The fact is, as stupid as "My country, right or wrong" is as a slogan, it must be something you can abide by at the last ditch, if push comes to shove. And in that event, should push come to shove, I cannot honestly take that position.

Let the healing begin - and I hope and pray it can. But it will not be without some surgery and I do indeed fear that it will not come without violence and upheaval. There are outstanding moral and legal debts, international obligations to justice being done and amends to be made if this beautiful moment is to unfold in all it's seeming promise.

I personally believe that even the appearance of being willing to hold the Bush administration accountable for it's most literal and inarguable crimes could cause social upheaval. It will certainly earn legitimate worldwide contempt and distrust - and with that will come terrifying economic consequences.

Too many people have been raised for too long in total batshit denial of vital duties of citizenship and the requirements of participating in civil discourse. Too many people believe that linguistic, social or direct violence and oppression are the first and only appropriate responses to dissent. And the realization that this cancer infects the US as badly as it infects anywhere the Taliban raises it's banner with impunity is something no-one who can connect to the internet and is aware of geopolitics and the price of money is unaware of.

These people have been defeated in a crucial battle. The war will continue; complacency is not an option.

I do not think they will permit "reconciliation." Nor do I believe they deserve forgiveness for thirty years of conscious subversion and treason. Whatever happens will be remarkable and intensely interesting from an historical perspective. For that very reason, I choose to spend the remainder of my days in a far less "interesting" social matrix.

I find myself holding within my heart an implacable hatred of all these people stand for, a hatred that is refueled every day by every pinhead and would-be potentate who consciously lies or stupidly repeats lies intended to further the end of a Saudi-style religious dictatorship upon us all. And such levels of hatred and contept bring a price of bitterness that I did not care to pay more of.

I finally choose to return home. Canada earned my loyalty long ago; but in the US, it's been established to my satisfaction that there are people in places of power, great and small, that would cheerfully kill me and mine if they could get away with it, and had achieved a great deal to achieve that happy state of affairs - of being able to kill anyone they wanted to, with impunity, while terrifying the rest into mute compliance.

And at least a third of the US citizenry thinks that's a fine idea, devoutly to be wished. In eight years, a nation I loved abused and squandered my loyalty and my trust, while Canada muddled along, quite easily avoiding the worst pitfalls of being such a close ally of the US.

I wish all of you the best and I will continue, even redouble my efforts to be a small voice of reason, sanity and right action. But frankly, I'm a Canadian, by birth AND by choice. If it comes down to it, if push comes to shove, this is my country, and it is right far more often than it is wrong because it cares about being correct in hindsight; because being good and decent is something we value across the spectrum. Often - far too often - the recognition that we have made poor choices comes late; often far too late. But as a nation, I do believe we do not cling to our mistakes so grimly or deny consequences so irrationally as I have seen "down there."

There are exceptions of course; there are certainly people here that are hateful little pinheads - but by and large, they are recognized as being hateful little pinheads, even by those who think Canada is far, far too liberal about this and that.

Mostly, though, we argue about the most effective means of effectively giving a crap about our neighbors without becoming meddlesome busybodies. More importantly, as Canadians, that is actually how we tend to act as individuals. Our ideology generally arises from conscience, rather than the other way around.

I'm afraid that left and right and middle, the idea that "ah gawt a gawdamn right" to exercise power over others who are thereby defined as "Lusers" is a cultural matter that is far too likely to play out in tragic ways against a world background of rapid change, need and expectation. We can no longer afford that luxury, if we ever truly could; this world is now so tightly knit together that it's really not sane to let any nation, large or small, to wander off into dusty, desolite, self-indulgent idiocy. Consequnces trancesnd borders; we must at least find ways of defining a price for such willful disregard for the rights of one's neighbors and take it to the Allthing of public opinion.

More than fear, though, I have hope, and if I were a native born American I would suck up my gut, gird my aching loins and carry on. I expect, hope and pray that you who are in such a position will do so.

I have faith you will ultimately prevail; indeed, I expect you will. But it will not be without cost, and I can foresee circumstances that may bring our two nations into genuine dispute.

Well, this is my home, this is my choice and this society, this polite, civil and caring nation is where and for what I will choose to fight if, God Forbid, push comes to shove.

Je sui un Canadian!

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