Hopeful

Hey remember that time I was despondent over Trump being elected and I sat “staring at an empty screen for a disconcertingly long time, trying to figure out what to write”. So I’ve been experiencing that again. There’s so many horrible things going on in the world right now that I don’t even know where to start to unpack it all. I suppose I can start with the US ban on Muslims entering the country – or should I say the ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries where Trump doesn’t have business dealings? It’s thrown the lives of so many people into chaos, it’s racist, it’s xenophobic, and sadly, it’s something that Trump told everyone he’s going to do and lots of people voted for him anyway.

Then there was the terrorist attack on a mosque in Quebec City, where a far-right extremist white man opened fire and murdered six innocent men and injured many others. The accused in this attack (who I’ve just read probably cannot be charged with terrorism because he had no ties to an organization – even though it’s clearly an act of terrorism) was apparently speaking about the Muslim travel ban – and his belief that only white people should be allowed to immigrate to Canada and Quebec – the day before the attack.

Even closer to home for me, neo-Nazi posters were left near a local church and there was anti-Muslim graffiti written on the wall of the building directly across from mine.

And while there’s been so much chaos related to the US Muslim travel ban – both with it being unconstitutional and racist, and with it being implemented without warning so that the people expected to enforce it, and the people being affected by it, were blindsided – Trump’s slipped in a whole bunch of other actions, including looking at how to remove financial regulations1, delay the implementation of a law that would require financial professionals who advise people on their retirement savings to actually put their clients interests ahead of their own financial gain2, authorize the building of a wall along the US-Mexican border, banning federal funding to groups who provide abortions (or even talk about abortions, really)3, starting the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, reinstating the Keystone pipeline, gagging scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, and, in what might be the biggest oversimplification I’ve ever seen in my life, a rule that says for every regulation that a federal agency introduces, they have to get rid of two other regulations.

But there are some glimmers of hope. People are coming together to protest this bullshit, whether it’s the people who gathered in my city to protest the hate literature and demonstrate that the community will not put up with this, the vigils across Canada to show solidarity with the Muslim community in the wake of the terrorist attack in Quebec City, or the millions worldwide (including all seven continents) who participated in the Women’s March to protest Trump. Sally Yates, the acting Attorney General stood up to Trump, telling Department of Justice lawyers not to defend Trump’s Muslim ban law. She was fired for standing up for what is right, and the fact that she was willing to stand up for what is right is heartening. A March for Science is being planned for April 22 – Earth Day – to protest things like the gagging of scientists; denial of the overwhelming scientific evidence that supports that climate change is, in fact, a thing that exists; and the general shunning of science and facts; to celebrate and support science and the scientific community4.

So while there is a lot to be despondent about, I’m going to go to bed tonight thinking about all the good people coming together to support one another in these dark times. To quote the late, great Jack Layton: “”My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

  1. You may remember insufficient financial regulations being a major player in the financial crisis of 2007/08. Trump wants to disembowel the Dodd-Frank law, which was created to prevent that sort of thing from happening again. []
  2. I mean, heaven forbid that someone who seeks professional advice on their retirement savings would actually get advice that is the most useful to them! []
  3. And not just to prevent money going to these organizations to be used for provide abortion care, but to prevent any money at all going to these organizations for any of the other healthcare (or other) services they provide. []
  4. There has been a lot of talk about the intersection of science (and academia more broadly) and the Muslim travel ban. Academics have been debating if they should boycott conferences in the US, since those from the banned countries are denied the opportunity, or if conferences should relocate outside of the US so that people from the banned countries can attend (except that would mean that anyone from the banned countries who are currently in the US wouldn’t get to go because they wouldn’t be able to get back into the US afterwards. There is also talk of how scientific collaborations are being hampered by the travel ban, as some researchers aren’t able to travel to take part in collaborative work. []