Dan Erkelens and I attended the same high school, Malvern Collegiate Institute in Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood, although our time there did not cross. We “met” on Facebook a few years ago and then met in person since that time. (Dan and his wife Sharon have both been big fans and supporters of my writing!) Dan recently posted comments on Facebook about a book he had been reading during a night when he couldn’t sleep, and what he wrote resonated with me. Like Dan, although we were both born in Canada, one of our parents had immigrated. So I understand exactly what he speaks of in this piece. The subject matter is also very timely, so I asked Dan to expand upon what he wrote online and offered to post this to my blog in order that he would (hopefully) find a wider audience. Here’s what I would like to become a regular feature on my blog, Dan’s Morning Musings. Thanks, Dan, for writing!
Dan’s Morning Musings
Everybody Is The Same
Some nights insomnia is such a waste, a night spent tossing and turning, howling at the sleep gods to just let you sleep. Other nights it offers the opportunity to read or listen to a good book. I’ve just finished John McCain’s The Restless Wave … What a remarkable man and an amazing story! Well worth reading or, in this case, listening.
Considering the current state of the world, rather than coming together, we are devolving into an “us against them” mentality. The problem is it is becoming harder to define THEM, which is part of the message of McCain’s book. Here is a man who put service to others ahead of his own needs and comforts. Who stood up against those in his own party when that was needed. Who said we are no better than THEM, because if we stoop to their level we become THEM. Which then raises the question, who is them? Is it the person who, while they may look like me, they vote for the wrong party?
Maybe it’s the Muslim family down the street: she wears a hijab, but they seem nice enough. Hell, they even speak English! As hard as it is to believe, I’ve seen him put a hockey bag in his car.
Then again they could be one of those refugee families; I hear they are coming to take everything we have and change our laws.
Thinking of who those THEM could be, I feel rather different as, other than people who vote for the likes of Ford and Harper, I’m cool with just about anyone until proven wrong,
Only kidding about the Conservatives, though, because sometimes they are sneaky and disguise themselves as friends and family.
Seriously, I have never been allowed to hate on any one group for NO real reason, even if I had wanted to. As a kid growing up in PEI there really was no one to hate … we all looked basically the same. Okay, there were a few Lebanese, but they were accepted – our church Minister was one of them.
There were the damn Catholics but, some were part of our family – second cousins. Okay, I was really pissed off when I went to his home for lunch with the only Chinese kid in the school. Can you believe we had sandwiches and not egg rolls for lunch? Talk about disappointment!
There was that black nurse, too, but since she helped save my sister’s life, they had to be okay, right? All kidding aside, the Island is the whitest place I have ever been, and still is, compared to Toronto. But that said, the Island also limited our exposure to THEM, so as long as the THEMs were good people they were accepted just as much as anyone from “away” could be, whether that away was Toronto or Timbuktu
I thought I had the “Indians” figured out: I heard they all drank. Too bad I voiced that opinion when Dad was picking one up along the side of the road where the man’s truck had broken down. Seven-year-old me just had to ask, “Why are we stopping for the drunken Injin?” That really went over well as it got me one of the few slaps I ever remember receiving. Plus I was the one who had to walk home in the rain … I’d like to say it was miles, but it was just up our driveway, while Dad drove the man home by himself.
I was a little more than scared the next morning when Dad said we were going to visit the Drunk. Turns out he was a Mi’kmaq elder who never drank, and his wife Anne made the same sugar cookies as my Nan. I had so much fun playing with his grandkid. Turns out those Mi’kmaq kids are pretty cool. I cried when I had to go home.
Fast forward a couple years when we moved to Toronto and I am now the kid being picked on for being different, because I talked funny, had a weird accent, and was short and pudgy. Suddenly we were one of THEM, those damn Maritimers who came to take away their jobs.
Then, as people who knew our family can attest, everyone was welcome at Mom and Dad’s table, so I had no choice but to meet and mix with the diversity that Toronto had to offer.
Truth is, everybody is the same; we all have the same hopes, dreams, fears, wishes. We want a roof over our heads, food on the table, and to be able to provide for our family and loved ones.
It doesn’t matter if you are black, white, purple, straight, gay, trans, Muslim, Christian or a Jain.
Everybody is the same.
Okay, 5:30 a.m. and time to say good morning to Sharon, get the newspaper, and end this moment of reflection. To be continued later.