Bad Words

A few minutes ago, Canadians began to express their collective uncertainty and ennui at the polls. For our part, Barbara and I will make our way down to the Mennonite church to exercise our franchise when she’s home from work. (I’ve always thought, in this context, that the use of the word “exercise” is rather strange. Its use is kindred to the function of taking the dog out for its morning pee. Every four years, Canadians take their franchise out for a walk—or the dynamic equivalent of a pee—and then return it to the place whence it came. I’m probably making too much of this and should stop now.)

Uncertainty and ennui are the order of the day. In fact, we do well to be wary of purveyors of certainty and smiley faces. Even the Norwegian Poling Gnomes, certain about many things, are finding it difficult to sort it all out. The slung mud obscures our vision. Truths of all sorts have taken a beating and untruths have been strewn and stacked several layers deep.

I offered my own, personal hope in an earlier blog. I’m hoping for a Liberal minority in which Mr. Trudeau sucks it up and invites Ms. May and Mr. Singh into a “progressive” alliance. We mustn’t, for God’s sake, use the term “coalition”. It’s a bad word. See “More Things” in Worst-Past-the-Post.

My grandmother once asserted, based on something she was reading, that there were “five bad words” in the English language. We were five in the living room at the time. My mother and father, my grandfather and I were in wingback chairs facing one another at the north-east, south-east, south-west and north-west positions of the formally disposed living room. There was a sofa a few feet outside this arrangement at the due-north position just beyond the rest of us. From there, knees pulled in and feet pulled up onto the second cushion, Grandmama would pronounce.

“There are five bad words in the English language.”

I looked up from something by Tolkien. The others within the compass of one-time readers allowed their newspapers to fold in just enough that they could peer over the tops at Grandmama.

“There are five bad words in the English language.”

All eyes were fixed on Grandmama.

“There are five bad words in the English language: Pee. Po. Belly. Bum. And drawers.”

Our communal gase gave evidence of a fair measure of bewilderment and a sort of pensive quality usually reserved for an explication of gravity or something similar.

“Pee. Po. Belly. Bum. And drawers.”

The newspapers were restored to their former uprightness and I returned to Middle Earth. Or was it one of the Father Christmas Letters? I think, the latter.

“Pee. Po. Belly. Bum. And drawers.”

It’s poetic, after a fashion:

“Pee, po, belly, bum ‘n’ drawers.”

I think the fact that “pee” occurs on this list is what brought this episode to mind. Or perhaps it’s the thought that the word “coalition” does not. Not sure.

My hope

My hope resides in a belief that our leaders have better selves that were consigned to closets or to the care of significant others for the last 40 days. I think it’s forty days. It feels a lot longer.

My hope resides in a “progressive” coming-together of the Liberals, New-Democrats and Greens wherein they could whittle-off some of the rough edges of each other’s platforms in favour of a useful governing synthesis. However, I’m looking for more than simply that.

(By the way, “progressive” is a word that some conservatives relinquished not too long ago only to see it woven into the recent blather of Liberal talking points. Good grief!)

My big hope

My big hope is that a “progressive” coming-together might take whatever bold steps are required to help right the ship of Climate Change and negotiate the hard channels of economic and social disruption and reconstruction that boldness requires. It would, as a matter of course, take dramatic action to repair the relationship between First Peoples and Late-Comers. This is my big hope. It’s born of a certain faith in the original idea of confederation.

And I hope this hope mostly for the sake of my grandchildren. It’s almost too late for my kids. They already get to live in the dirty nest of our self-centredness and in the mire of the broken relationships of our uncaring. Well, mostly so. It’s for their kids that, together, my generation and the next could begin to clean up our act and repair relationships. (As a technical matter, I also hope for a constructive loyal opposition and an intelligent chamber of sober second thought to help make things work. This may be the hard part.)

So for now. I have some work to do in the garden.

André +

André Lavergne writing from a settler-descendant’s home on the traditional lands of the Neutral, Anishnaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples on the Haldimand Tract (1784). 

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