Things are intense in Canada right now.
And one of the things that has felt distressing to me personally, is how we can no longer agree on what is a fact and what is not and that makes it really hard to even begin to have a conversation about how to find common ground.
There are no more gatekeepers in the media, and so everyone can choose the media that reflect their own biases. We can all feel like the media we choose is telling the truth and everyone else is biased. That's always been true but never to the same extent as now.
So, right now, for some people it feels like this amazing freedom rally went across the country and is fighting the communist Canadian government and standing up for freedom for all.
And some people, me included, feel like white nationalist groups, many of which are funded and organized from outside of our country, are occupying the capital, displaying white supremacist symbols, allowing thugs to run wild, assaulting people for wearing masks, committing so many hate crimes the police have no way of keeping up with the reports coming in and appropriating First Nations sacred items and practices in disgraceful ways.
And everyone has a cell phone. There is plenty video evidence to show what is happening on both sides.
Both of these things are happening.
I looked at some photos that the people who support this protest were sharing and I saw the love and unity that they saw. I saw how badly they want that, they are have been willing to "overlook a few bad apples" and keep supporting this movement, despite all of the controversy and reports of hate crimes.
We actually ALL want that. Unity and freedom and every opportunity to feel good.
But if we want our movements to be supported by everyone, we have to include everyone.
There was a ridiculously hostile happening on the social media accounts of my favourite doughnut shop this weekend. And supporters of the freedom rally were getting angry and saying "but we're fighting for YOUR freedom too" and that's when I saw it so clearly.
You can't angrily tell someone you are fighting for their freedom too.
If you truly are fighting for their freedom, you have to find out where they are not free. You can't project your own experience onto them and expect it to fit.
So the people in favour of the freedom rally feel oppressed in a specific way, and want to create freedom in a specific way.
And the people not in favour of it don't feel oppressed in that particular way, and the solution being presented by the freedom rally actually feels oppressive to many, even dangerous to some, or at the very least not helpful.
It's not the flavour of freedom I want. I agree with you that freedom is great! But this particular flavour of it actually doesn't taste like freedom at all, to me.
I wrote last week about how much I am loving couples therapy.
One of the things I've received from it that I love most is the life-changing magic of accepting things as they are.
For a person who has makes her living by helping people make their dreams happen - accepting things as they are is NOT a place where I thought I would find a lot of magic and healing.
However, the magic of accepting things as they are can be a vital tool for relationships because when applied right (I'm not talking about resigning yourself to having less than what you really want) it helps you make space to find common ground.
So I though about my experiences with that, and laid it over my thoughts about the freedom rally and.... oh.
We really all do want unity and freedom.
So the only effective way to go about it is to take an intersectional approach and find out what that means for everyone.
Hold space for what every single person wants here. *There is a HUGE caveat to this of course and I'll come back to that.
Even though many people will want the exact opposite of what others want, and the wants will conflict in ways that make it seem impossible that we can ever come together.
That's where we apply the life-changing magic of accepting things as they are. In accepting what other people want, too.
You don't have to agree, to accept.
How can we make space for being aware of and accepting of what other people want?
How can we assume that other people have valid reasons for wanting what they want?
It really shifts the way the you look at it, and creates space where new possibilities can emerge.
Conflicting wants and desires actually CAN all be held together.
When you can sit with WHAT IS.
Even when it's uncomfortable.
Even when there are no solutions in sight:
You want an end to the mandates now.
I want the mandates to stay in place, and get better (with more forms of support for everyone) until the pandemic has subsided to the point where our most vulnerable people are as safe as they were pre-pandemic.
(Ideally I'd love for the pandemic to have taught us about what vulnerable people go through in our society, recognize that they're not vulnerable by nature but MADE vulnerable by the way organize our culture, and make some changes, but that's a bigger topic)
Clearly, these two wants conflict directly and it appears that we can't both have what we want.
And we can both point to information and ways of seeing the world that completely invalidate the other person's point of view.
But what if we don't?
What if we see the pain everyone is in right now?
What if we recognize that we're all acting out of our trauma responses because living through a global pandemic is traumatizing?
What if we just stay there for a minute, without any solutions at all?
I don't see another way of coming to any kind of unity.
Not that I see solutions right now, but I see this as a way to move towards them.
Back to: We need to hold space for what every single person wants here.
***Except for the white nationalists and nazis who have been given carte blanch to run around committing hate crimes for over a week in Ottawa.
If your values include the oppression of other groups of people, there is no room for you in unity.
Unity can't be ALL peace and love and rising above and saying "we're all welcome here" while turning a blind eye to the hate crimes. It's an EXTREMELY privileged stance to allow these people in your movement and give them the opportunity to do harm.
While I recognize that all people are, at their core, good - if people are so disconnected from who they really are that they're waving nazi flags, threatening rape and murder to people who chose to wear masks, throwing rocks into windows in apartment buildings that have pride flags on them (all documented events that are happening at the rally in Ottawa) - then good people can't unify with them.
You can hold space for them to get better - if they want to.
But hate can't be a part of unity.
Unity needs judicious boundaries.
And if you're feeling like "oh no I can't dis-include people from the movement" please think about how well you are including people who have been the victims of all of these hate crimes.
The presence of hate groups means everyone can't be safely included.
So you do have to choose: groups of people who actively want to destroy other people or everybody else?
But once you've done that, some form of unity has got to be possible.
In truth we are all one.