Is it me and my selfishness or is Canada becoming more polarized socially? A friend of mine calls it “tribes of belief” instead of breaking out into original thought or reasonable discourse. We are too often spoon-fed dogma; someone else’s. Go team! Pro this or anti that, the landscape has become a flat pitch onto which opposing sides battle mercilessly. It’s all too easy to spew vitriol at the opposition.
In addition to my friend’s insights, others have squared the blame on social media though I am not convinced: maybe perhaps the advance of media where a tweet is not worth a thousand words and explanation and attention are in short supply. I suppose these ills are apparent; however I intuitively feel it is deeper than that, a kind of discontent with the present where powerlessness is felt not just by those youthful enough to consume the fleeting.
I’m looking at several examples. The first would be the reaction by a majority of Canadians to the Quebec student protests. It appears as though anyone willing to identify a cause and march in support these days is risking an ire more akin to petulance – something you wouldn’t expect from those liberalized boomers that created the tactic of demonstration and mobilization for a cause. Or are we seeing the spoiled aging cohort take on a more sinister face; the post-war boom becomes “only us,” we did it, and no one else can have the privilege thereafter.
I’ll take the annoyance factor one step farther. Soon you will not be able to demonstrate anonymously behind a face mask, bandana or kerchief. You’ll be in violation of the legal right of law enforcement to establish your identity – ahead of any malfeasance. But let’s not riot in the streets just yet. There are many other examples of polarization. Take the political left and right. We may be entirely influenced by verbal jibes from south of the boarder in a run-up to a presidential election – where histrionics appear as part of the play book. The US Republicans accuse each other of not being conservative enough and an industry has grown up around this to tackle everything from climate change to human reproductive rights.
Sitting across the border, we are apparently lacking of a few lessons from the South as their approach is piling up. Local backbenchers bring forth private members bills that would see the opening of debate on abortion in a thinly veiled exchange of legal review. This is the thing of fascism, where the anonymous and powerless masses sit by, and willingly pay tribute to their favourite side. I put this down to our economy and our leadership at the moment. To not engage in debate only serves to strengthen the narrow ideals of a few. Let’s face it, economically we have all been kicked in the guts recently and there is no end-zone in site if you believe the dailies. The global threats to our social safety net are mirrored by the adjustments being made at home and supported by ideologues that are only accountable every four years.
Listen up folks, we are hear for quite a while on this earth so we better get used to working together. Intolerance and peevishness result in a lose, lose scenario where we are forced to look over our shoulders every day. My next door neighbor felt the force of a querulous so-and-so who called the police because their jack-russell was making far too much noise. Admittedly the thing is a bit of a yap but the altercation heated up with accusations that the supposed ill-tempered beast caused complaints by all of those within earshot. Not true, or else I would be on the phone complaining myself. After all, I can be just as petulant as the next guy.