To my American brothers and sisters:
It’s Martin Luther King Day. I’m sure the irony is not lost on you either – a celebratory day of peace and freedom the same week as the inauguration.
We are a continent with a deep history of oppression. Look at the people across both of our countries and you find it, almost to an individual, either in our recent or distant past. Our ancestors arrived here full of hope while escaping the horrors of their native land, their home and native land.
Consider the decision to uproot an entire family, move thousands of miles away to a foreign land where you don’t know the language, customs, or people, where you have no job, no home, and no connections. But you have hope, hope for a better future.
This is our truth. Millions upon millions of people chose to come to North America for a dream, just a dream.
Martin Luther King had a dream, so did our grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles. So do the refugees crowding the camps across the globe, so do the lucky ones waiting for their paperwork to clear.
So what’s wrong? What has gone so terribly wrong that we have forgotten what our ancestors faced?
We have become complacent.
No, it’s more than complacency.
We believe, we actually believe, that we have done this, we are successful, and we have made a difference. But it was the suffering of our ancestors that led us to where we are today. Without their suffering and their sacrifices, we would not be here, we would not be here.
My heart breaks for you, my American brothers and sisters. What an incredibly difficult time for people on both sides of the political spectrum. There is no winner in this fight, not a single one. The country faces years of conflict. If this demagogue is permitted full reign, the future is bleak.
Let’s hope for hope. Let’s hope the words of Martin Luther King can find resonance somewhere in the new administration. There has been too much sacrifice for this backsliding into racism and misogyny.
I have a dream. I have a dream that one day the entire world will realize we are all the same, we are equal. I dream that one day people will stop killing each other and start caring for each other, feeding each other, and educating each other.
If we go in to a room and turn out the lights tell me which are the black ones, the white ones, the Asians and the Arabs? Turn off the sound and which ones are the Jews, the Christians, the Buddhists or the Muslims. We rely solely on our senses for differentiation.
Think about that for a moment. There is little or no mind involved in this decision. We rely solely on our eyes and/or our ears to determine whether or not we act badly towards others due to their race or religion. Only after seeing or hearing someone do we make a choice of behaviour. Without our senses everyone, and I mean everyone is equal. No colour, no religion, no sexual orientation, no money. We are all equal in a dark and quiet room.
Perhaps this is how we should start all international meetings? Turn out the lights, turn off the mics and sit there for a while, absorbed in the equality of all men and women, all of them….
But that’s not likely to happen. The louder we yell, the less we hear. The brighter the lights the less we see.
What a sad world, what a sad commentary.
I have a dream. King had a dream. Let’s not forget his words, particularly at this difficult time.
Langston Hughes, 1902 – 1967
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—
I, too, am America.