It started this morning when my youngest got a text from a friend that stated: “The World is Ending.”
“Mom, what does this mean?”
“Well,” I said, “I believe she’s referring to the US election outcome.”
Picture a giant question mark hanging between us. “Donald Trump won last night. It was close.”
I think she said “No Way” or something to that effect and we ate breakfast in our home, in a suburb in Ontario, Canada.
I told the news to my eldest daughter before she left for high school. Because I wanted her to hear it from me first. Throughout the campaign there were a lot of strange rumours that germinated on the school yard and grew on Snapchat or Youtube. For me facts still count for something…so when one daughter came home a couple of months ago with comments about how the Internet says Trump will declare war with Canada, I said: I don’t think that’s accurate, or likely to happen. And lately there was a lot of inappropriate commentary about Trump’s kids, especially his daughters. To me these rumours felt icky all along. Today I finally told my kids that although his kids are grownups I feel like they should be out of bounds.
I am Raising a Voter
In three short years my one daughter will be eligible to vote here in Canada. I suspect that I know some of the issues that will be important to her. We talk often about equality and women’s rights and disabilities and inclusion and all sorts of things that matter. Racism is not okay. I know she holds those things close to her huge heart. Tolerance and inclusion and empathy – these are things we have modelled and taught literally from the time we became parents. LGBTQ issues matter to all of us. Family is family and love is love. End of story. One of the things I think we should take the most pride in here in Canada is the fact that we embrace Gay Marriage. Our Prime Minister walks in PRIDE parades. And our health care is exceptional.
The Internet blew up for a bit today and I honestly had some trouble focusing on what I intended to write. I tried to look away from Facebook and Twitter and the news today, but then I found that I honestly couldn’t. And for one day that’s okay. This morning after the girls left for school I spent some time on the phone with a financial advisor. He broke down the markets and what the anticipated outcome will be and showed me exactly what we are seeing right now. He’s clever that way. Global markets are reacting to change and it’s going to be a strange ride. When the world’s largest superpower votes so dramatically for a volatile candidate and chooses them for their president, it’s naive to think that the world won’t see an impact. The world is already seeing impact.
For a time I watched many Canadians in my feed start saying how proud they are to be Canadians right now. That is absolutely how I feel every day. I am very fortunate to be Canadian, living in the most tolerant, considerate and compassionate country in the world. But then something weird happened and I watched many people who are Canadian start to say – well they made their choice, and look to your own backyard. And ‘Fix what’s wrong with Canada.’ What does that mean, I wondered? Is there some reason we should choose to support only Canada?
“Be the change you want to see in your own country,” someone wrote.
“Bloom Where you are Planted,” a good friend posted.
EVERY one of us is responsible for being the change.
I don’t see it as an either or though. Absolutely there’s more work to be done here in Canada and in our own cities and neighbourhoods. There always is.
But, I don’t know if I agree with bloom where you are planted. I used to. For me right now, I think it is bloom where you are planted and also wherever else you are needed. There is a global impact to the US election outcome. The markets are already reacting. NAFTA will be impacted. Our very small climate and environmental gains may not travel as far as we had hoped since it is clear that’s not likely to be a priority of this new administration…and that impacts the future dramatically. That impacts our children and grandchildren dramatically. I am sorry to say you can’t argue that one. Climate change is real. It’s science.
Other countries around the world that rely on US aid dollars may struggle.
We can control our reaction, I heard.
I see some merit in that as a parent. So I thought about that stay calm philosophy.
And I pondered what will my reaction be when my kids return home from school. My daughters, it should be stated are 12 and 15. We are political. We talk about social and societal issues often. Tomorrow we will be on a local TV station talking about something entirely different from this but a thing that also has to do with disabilities and advocacy. WE USE OUR VOICES. WE do not hide or bury our heads in the sand.
What will my reaction be? What was my reaction?
Well first I showed my daughters the classy concession speech that Hillary Rodham Clinton gave today. I told them what I liked about it.
Then while making dinner together, we had a lot of conversations about a whole lot of social issues that are important to us. My teen mentioned how her teachers were reacting to the US election outcome. One called it a giant mistake. Then we also spoke about how a few of her LGBTQ friends were feeling and reacting. Worried, angry, confused, sad and upset, summarizes it.
Both of my kids are concerned about Canadians and if we will still be welcome in the US. Both are worried about this “Wall.” Will there also be a wall between Canada and the US? they have asked. I hope that is not the case.
I will control my reaction in some ways, absolutely because kids need to also see that we can all cope. I will reconsider my use of the word never. Because last week I used it a lot when these Canadian kids were anxious about the election results and the global impact.
Should Canadians Care About the US Election Outcome?
But I won’t stop caring about the US election outcome. And I’m not turning my face away from global affairs, nor do I want my kids to simply care about our own backyard. Our backyard is a bloody privileged place actually. It’s okay to be passionate about global issues and local, national issues. They are not mutually exclusive.
So tonight before bed when they are always their most talkative – we will talk about resiliency and diversity and what matters to us. Four years can be a very long time for a child, and for an adult too sometimes.
I will keep talking because kids deserve to know. They are the ones who live with our choices the longest. And we sill stay passionate and we will care and we will help when and where we are needed, be it in my backyard or around the world.