Be thankful for the divisiveness of this election.It gives us a new chance to define our nation.

I don’t watch a lot of TV, but happened upon a show on CBC a while back that really touched me.

‘Still Standing’  is a series each of you should make time to check out, so accurately does it portray the eclectic melting pot of strengths and values that make up the country we call Canada. All the small towns comedian Jonny Harris visits are on the ropes but still holding on. While Jonny visits, he unravels the history of the town and the people who still make their homes there, along with their triumphs and struggles.

Towns like Buxton, Ontario – a small town with a rich history of being the final destination for many black slaves who fled slavery in the United States and gained freedom here in Canada. When a new family of former slaves arrived in town, someone would ring the ‘Liberty’ bell by the church and everyone in town would come, build this new family a home and help them get settled.

From Manitou, Manitoba to Lytton BC, the stories of these small towns and the diversity of the people struggling to keep them alive are so compelling. Many of these towns were the backbone of their area until progress brought a new highway that bypassed them, or the railway moved or a bigger city with bigger box stores drove small local businesses under. Those that remain impart wisdom and courage in keeping their history alive and it’s these collective stories that make Canada what it is today. And we can all learn from that right now.

Throughout this election,my heart has felt much sadness as wedge issues revealed the prejudices of many on a much larger scale, that moved far beyond whether or not a woman should wear a niqab during a citizenship ceremony or the Syrian refugee crisis.

At one point,I received an email from a long time friend who I had considered progressive, with a link to a story about Syrian refugee’s in Europe: ” We can’t take all these Muslims!” he said.

That line bothered me. He didn’t say we can’t take all these refugee’s. He said we can’t take all these Muslims. I’ve seen a side of some people I know I can’t go back and un-see and that pains me. But as hard as it was to move past his statement,I knew that un-friending him or blocking him would only serve to enable and perpetuate his feelings.

We are better than this. Some of us have forgotten who we are as a nation and we need to build bridges within our communities, not barriers. We need to sit together and have difficult conversations in person,not sparring debates on social media where you can easily avoid the personal connection. So much is lost in translation online that can only be built in person.

There is so much to be thankful for in this great country, yet so many have been sucked into a divide that will take time,education and hard conversations to heal. Take a lesson from these struggling small towns I first mentioned in this post and remember your heritage. Most of us,myself included,come from a family who immigrated here with few if any possessions save the dreams for a better life.

I am so thankful for the diversity of my friends,readers and followers this Thanksgiving. Even when we don’t agree, we always feel free to share our opinions and that matters. Because lasting change only comes from understanding, and understanding comes from education. Don’t hide your head in fear or ignorance.Reach out a hand in tolerance and make an effort to understand a perspective,culture,community you are unfamiliar with.

Today, I have chosen to be thankful for this heart wrenching political divisiveness because it gives us the opportunity as a nation to decide what kind of country we want to be. The only positive in this is that we now have the chance to define ourselves as Canadians. And I trust we will rise above it all and show the world who we really are.

This Thanksgiving, I know you’ll all appreciate the blessings of your family and your table, but take a moment to look beyond your hearth as well. Thank the people in your community making a difference-the change-makers, the artists, the people working quietly day in and out to make it a better place to live. We don’t need leaders to bring us together,we can do it ourselves. All it takes is the will to do better.

And thank you, each of you, for contributing to the conversation. I wish you the very best this Thanksgiving!

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22 thoughts on “Be thankful for the divisiveness of this election.It gives us a new chance to define our nation.

  1. Laila. First and foremost a very Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. STILL STANDING? I stumbled across it quite by accident as well. very reminiscent of ON THE ROAD AGAIN with your host Wayne Rostad. I had just been through Lytton this past summer when I discovered it and lo and behold they were visiting Lytton. Timing. It’s everything.

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  2. I agree. I have traveled extensively and found ‘the people’ universally kind and generous. Religion never separated us. Wealth disparity sometimes did. Governments always separated us from them or them from us. But the real, people were generally good. And we (Canada) need more of them. But it ain’t easy. Some bring their problems, some create new ones and some just take a long time to get with the Canadian script. In fact it usually takes 3 generations to get assimilated. Just like it did for us. But poor families fleeing war are not our enemies. They can be our friends. There’s plenty of room. Let them in!

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    1. Laila

      There is more that binds us, than separates us.Love, pain, suffering and joy are universal traits. We are all mothers, fathers, children, lovers.

      While we build cities, we often forget about building communities.I have heard people whine about new immigrants and refugee’s not fitting in, but I ask you, what are you doing in your community to welcome them and make them feel at home? Look to the historical example of Buxton and how the community welcomed black slaves seeking freedom with open arms and helped them start new.

      We’re at a point whereby technology allows us to be part of a global community yet we often forget about the real need to build communities around us, in person, one on one.

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  3. jim

    I have to disagree, it was not because you were communicating with your “friend” online that something was lost in communication, online or in person, that friend is a xenophobic bigot. Speaking in person won’t change that.

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    1. Laila

      I never said that his example was because of online,lost in translation communication.

      I said unfriending him isn’t going to solve the issue of this prejudice either.

      We must not tolerate this hatred but fear and hatred only festers in darkness if not checked with education and real information,not false perceptions fed by fear mongering leaders looking to exploit that lack of knowledge and fear.

      It is true we fear the unknown. But when we come to know and learn, and build understanding those old beliefs and perceptions can be changed.We see this all the time. It doesn’t happen overnight. But if we simply hit the block button, or stop talking or seeking to change those ideas,how does one make change? The answer is you can’t.

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        1. Laila

          This fellow has always shown immense compassion and passion for social change and equality.He has admonished the handling of the murdered and missing women,supported First Nations, etc. I hope that when our conversation happens,he will use the same progressiveness to understand my offence at this statement and why it matters. I want to know why he feels this way.

          At one point in time it was believed and accepted by many that women were incompetent to vote,people of colour were made to use different doors and special needs children and people with mental illness were locked up. I could go on.Would any of this changed if we just shut up and stopped talking about it? If people didn’t continue to push and fight for change? No. And while some people will never change their views or beliefs,others will.

          How I feel about this person has changed immensely. But in the effort to further understanding,the conversation must be had.

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          1. jim

            Well I wish you the best with this person, and I hope you can show them reason. The people I attempted to discuss this with seem to be much less reasonable then the ones you have. I attempted to speak reasonably with them, but they would have none of it.

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  4. Election Canada Special Blank Ballot

    Remember Christy Clark’s splash and dash, news media cameras rolling and she proceeded to write her name where BC Liberal Candidate Margaret McDiarmid (Minister who fired the Health researchers) should have been.

    CBC reporter caught her error. Clark then crossed her name out it proceeded through the labyrinth Elections BC.

    It would be a great one, historically, to be sold at Terry Fox fundraiser.

    http://www.elections.ca/content2.aspx?section=vote&dir=spec&document=index&lang=e

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  5. Reblogged this on Words for Women and commented:
    A Wonderful Thanksgiving Blog fm my FAVE Blogger. We are in the HEAT of a Federal election which she describes well. I am grateful, after reading this to realize that I have 2 good friends with POLAR opposite Politics than me – I agree to disagree & laugh. I have a nice online friend and we BOTH rave our opposite views and ignore each others posts – buddies after election and avoid Politics now. I think we are all capable of that..at least online. lol

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  6. And a Happy Thanksgiving to you as well, Laila. I’ve watched every one of Jonny Harris’ shows and am looking forward to more of the same. He does such a terrific job of turning despair into hope…….and hilarity!

    I’ve been busy canvassing for my local NDP candidate lately, but not as much as I’d like, as I’m also busy picking apples for charity. To anyone who has never volunteered in their community, I’d just like to say that it is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. It’s a win/win situation because not only are you helping others more unfortunate than yourself, you also get to meet and work with some of the nicest people in the world.

    Regarding that friend who disappointed you with his Muslim remark, I would tend to regard that as an unfortunate slip of the tongue, since he must have many good qualities or he wouldn’t be your friend, right? I have friends who forward some ugly e-mails about Muslims, and I simply delete them and tell my friends I would prefer they didn’t send me anymore of those hateful things. If I don’t hear from them again, then I guess they weren’t really friends after all. Sad, though, isn’t it, that things like religion or race can be so divisive?

    Same goes for politics. I know families that have been torn apart because some vote NDP (or Liberal) and others vote Conservative. They can’t even set aside their political differences to sit down together at the Thanksgiving dinner table. I hope none of your readers fit into this category, and that everyone is having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.

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  7. Scotty on Denman

    Three more of us are now bionic since sitting down to last year’s turkey (four eyes and two hearts in total); maybe that explains why we seemed to have skipped over our usual impolitic table conversation (that is, debating both politics and religion while feasting and imbibing), and limited it to electoral systems (where there seemed to have been unanimity—quite the accomplishment).

    I’m thankful we’re all getting too old in retirement, or are too tired from working all week, to over-indulge the thrill of controversy. Grandchildren won’t be voting until next election (2019), but this time they appeared to be listening instead of rolling their eyeballs.
    It’s a blessing.

    It feels so good, you’re almost afraid to move for fear of snapping out of it. I’m so happy I live in a country of fairness, equality, and prosperity, free of bigotry—hey—wait a minute—~SNAP!~

    Okay, dinner’s over, time to get back at it.

    Here’s something we can all do without being led by politicians and parties: strategic voting.

    Best wishes,

    Scotty

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  8. katharina heitzmann

    Laila, I think you are being hard on your friend because he used a word you are not comfortable with. it seems we have become a nation of people who are afraid to speak in case we use a word that might offend someone. your friend sounds like a good person who would probably help someone in need no matter their race or religion. he does not sound like or neither should he be called a bigot. many need to mellow out and not over react when people are expressing an opinion. every day I am thankful for living in canadaand that includes having freedom of speech.

    I

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    1. Laila

      No, Katharina, Muslim is not a word I am uncomfortable with and why would I be? He is the one uncomfortable with Muslim refugees and immigrants, not I. This is not about being PC,because he has made it clear the issue is with Muslims because ‘ they are the root of the extremism.’

      The words Muslim and Refugee are not interchangeable and it was not a slip of the tongue.Opinions are fine and yes this is Canada where we are free to express our opinions with the exception of hate speech, threats,libel or defamatory statements…..

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  9. Pingback: Look what happens when Canadians unite for a single purpose. Remember this. | No Strings Attached : Laila Yuile on politics and life in B.C.

  10. Pingback: Operation Backpack | No Strings Attached : Laila Yuile on politics and life in B.C.

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