Faithfully

Clocks set back, days ahead altered
as if time can be held, still
we cannot fool ourselves in believing.

The sun will still set.

We seldom lose hours as much as
we change our trajectory.
It will get darker, before you know.

The sun will still rise.

Between where and then, light will
strike any object in its path
as long as it is able. Faithfully, we watch.

The sun sets.

This autumn, this November,
carries a tone of melancholy.
Steadfast, I can only stare back.

The sun rises.

I know about fear, or fear what I know.
Remnants of the day,
routinely, have so much less to offer.

The sun will still set.

When all that you know becomes
all that you have, you are
unable to consider possibility.

The sun will still rise

We live and breathe, twenty-four hours
daily. Memory will serve us;
those uncertain, those unbroken.

© 2019   j.g. lewis

Free Speech Or Hate Speech

There was a substantial protest last night outside a downtown Toronto library demonstrating against an author speaking her views on gender identity.

The event went ahead as planned, following a great deal of media attention, weeks of protest, a hefty on-line petition in opposition, and ‘no place for hate’ signs liberally taped up through the city.

Vancouver writer Meghan Murphy unapologetically promotes her opinion not to recognize the rights of transgender people. Reportedly, about a hundred people attended the event. The number of people protesting outside was far more than twice that number.

While the event has broadened conversation on transgender rights, it has shone a light on the gap between diversity and inclusion. It has also opened up a wider debate on the role, and purpose, of a pubic library.

In any city or town, libraries are traditional civil institutions dedicated to culture, history, free thought, information, and ideas. The purpose of a library, as I was raised to understand, is to encourage and advance opinion. The library is a place of learning. I have long carried a library card.

The library as I know it, in any of the cities I have lived in, is also central to the community as it hosts neighbourhood meetings, presentations and exhibits for all ages. I attended a pen and stationery show last Sunday in this city. The pen show, while not offered by the Toronto Library system, used public space within the library.

Last night’s presentation was not sponsored by the Toronto Public Library, but took place in library space. The use of this space, above the topic of the presentation, has been questioned. The mayor has publicly voiced his displeasure over the contentious event in a city library. A local councilor has said she will present a motion to council directing the city manager and solicitor to review booking rules for all public spaces.

What last night’s event does is question the difference between free speech and hate speech, and with that there are further questions we must continually ask ourselves.

When does refusing a speaker, or book, constitute censorship? When do we take opinion at face value and when do we give it more gravity than it deserves.

I’ve not read anything by Murphy. I have not bothered clicking onto her Feminist Current website. This event is actually the first I’ve heard of the opposition to her views on gender identity and apparent anti-trans stance. Last night’s protest, then, may actually be giving the author more of a platform because of the anger aimed at the Toronto Public Library system.

I have heard concerns, through the media, over the past week that some authors will no longer appear at library events. I’ve read that performers will cancel their roles in popular children’s programming because of this event. I’ve also read that trans-women will no longer feel safe in a Toronto library. I am saddened and fearful when I hear all of these examples because a library should be a safe place for all individuals and families. This is how I have always known a library.

Efforts to reduce services or withdraw participation within the library will only further harm the Toronto Public Library system. When people do not visit, or books are not lent out, and when crowds no longer gather in these magnificent spaces, it will eventually lead to budget cuts.

But this is not as much about future funding as it is the future itself.

You have to ask one major question.

When they attempt to take away an author’s right to say, or write about what they think or feel, when will they next attempt to silence you?

© 2019 j.g. lewis

Foreseeable Future

We got what we deserved.

Canada is — and has long been —  a country of regional differences; a nation divided and subdivided by issues, language, heritage and lifestyle. A peace-making nation, politely respected around the world, this country’s growth has been fostered by immigration and, often, hindered by partisan politics.

Monday’s federal election delivered a minority government that closely represents the current mood of the country: fractured, resilient, capable of change, but tired of what has been going on in the nation’s capital.

In 2015 we saw a wholesale change to the election map as the Liberals replaced the governing Conservatives. This back and forth between the two major parties happens every decade or so (and occasionally more often). It is predictable.

But never is it boring.

Monday night we saw the reining Liberals lose a lot of power, still maintain a minority, as they painted the vote-rich Toronto region red. We saw the west go true Blue as the Conservatives took back space they had let go astray. We saw the resurgence of the Bloq Quebecois, a separatist party, again take hold of its province with numbers that will definitely influence the country’s direction. We see the NDP coming back in certain areas (perhaps more than expected) and holding the balance of power, and the Green party taking up a little more space on the map.

The results do not represent the popular vote, but that is not how this country operates. Here we count bums in the seats, and for the foreseeable future that means the government is Liberal.

The net result shows a population so obviously divided that no one single party government could appease all provinces, regions, or nations.

We have a political makeup that will now require cooperation. We may even have a nation that will need a coalition government, because Canadians do not want to go to the polls again any time soon.

Canadians want a government that will try to accomplish something. Canadians have a list of issues they want resolved, or at least addressed. Canadians want opposition parties to look past their partisan wants and needs, and get something done for the good of this country.

What we have right now is the potential for honesty. The Liberals, under Justin Trudeau, will not be able to apply pressure and push its ideologies through the House of Commons. To pass any legislation or introduce much-needed programs, the government it will have to cooperate, seek support and opinion (perhaps even at the committee level) from the other political parties in the mix.

That’s a good thing, as far as I can see it. This system, for the foreseeable future, should allow members of parliament to vote with conscience and represent the constituents who put them into office. That very thing has not happened a lot lately; certainly not with the last government, or several before.

For too long, too many elected representatives have been silenced and forced to tow the party line. Now, or for the foreseeable future, there is no room for an ego-driven party leader. In fact, it might be, or can be, or should be, the preferred method of operation in these fractured times.

There is no one party who can control the vote, the legislation, or the way of life in this country.

That’s a good thing. Let’s hope we get what we deserve.