Monday, October 19, 2015

Song #42: The Election Song (Please Tell Me)

I wrote this song over the weekend and posted it yesterday, but it took me hours to record, and I was too exhausted by that process to write the blog post that I wanted to write about it.

I think that the Canadian election campaign that has lasted for the past 11 weeks (which ends today) has felt difficult for a lot of people; I know that it has been a challenging one for me.

There has been so much wrangling and hostility. Complaints and accusations. Mud-slinging, slagging off "everyone who doesn't agree with me" and grasping at "all the marbles".

And I have found many of the hot-button issues either misguided (the economy, militarization) or offensive (terrorism, whether two women should be allowed to wear the niqab during their citizenship ceremonies, "Barbaric Practices" tip lines).

And meanwhile, the issues that mean the most to me: justice and reconciliation between all Treaty People (i.e. all Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada), drastic reform of environmental policies and a massive overhaul of Canada's internal mentality (regarding conservation, racism, greed, etc.) and our international relations, have seemed mostly side-lined, making way for personal attacks and pandering to "middle-class Canadian families".

Anyway, I tried to put all that in a song and this is the result:

The overarching theme is that I desperately hope Harper and the Cons get voted out today.

In verse one, I object to the Conservative Party's attempts to manipulate Canadians' beliefs using greed and fear – and I express my hope that a majority of Canadians are not going to fall for their ploys.

Verse two talks about my disillusionment regarding Canada's lack of racism. As a child, I lived for seven years in a multicultural neighbourhood in downtown Toronto. It was the idealistic seventies and I believed Canada was awesome, open and accepting of all. I had no idea about residential schools. I had no idea about my own embedded racist biases. In a long (and continuing) journey since then, I have come to believe that establishing respectful nation-to-nation relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people is something that needs to be done immediately. And it is absolutely do-able. It only requires good faith, open minds and hearts and an understanding of our true shared history, as Joseph Boyden states compellingly in this excellent interview. It will take time to reconcile, heal and grow together, but the process can begin immediately – as soon as there is a political decision to do it.

The bridge is my little, cynical sorrow about how there is not a lot of purity in politics. But that no matter the choices, I desperately hope that in this election the Conservatives are not an option for Canada.

And the final verse is about how I think that all of the parties are headed in the wrong direction, anyway. They are all waving their little prosperity flags – more jobs, more money, bigger flat-screen tvs for everybody, instead of more sharing, more generosity, more community, more happiness, more conservation, more care, more mindfulness.

I know that's not really the politicians' faults. If the majority of people want affluence, that's what politicians are going to offer them. But I think our culture is barking up the wrong tree. And sometimes that frustrates me. And it seems like this sideshow of an election campaign has been a distraction from thinking about real things, like climate change, environmental degradation and how to not be selfish jerks.

But given that it is highly unlikely that we will ever have the type of government I want for Canada, I am hopeful today that we will at least acquire a better, less mean-spirited and savage government than I feel we have had with the Harper Conservatives for the past 10 years.

Please tell me.

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