The one thing I want share about 2021 is this was a year where I really had to make conscious choices.
There was great challenge and adversity both personally and in the community as a whole. There was also opportunities for tremendous learning, growth, and for building resilience.
I’ve never seen the level of community anxiety and concern that I saw this year. The question I ask myself about this is “what do we do with this?”.
There is generally speaking, for me, a path of light and a path of darkness.
Many wise people, for thousands of years, have been thinking on this question and there is a full, robust, and very effective and helpful body of human knowledge that helps us take a path of light.
Unfortunately, it is not the path that gets the most attention.
For today, I wanted to share with you a quote from the great Parker Palmer. I’ve thought a lot about these words this year.
“Suffering breaks our hearts, but the heart can break in two different ways. There's the brittle heart that breaks into shards, shattering the one who suffers as it explodes, and sometimes taking others down when it's thrown like a grenade at the ostensible source of its pain. Then there's the supple heart, the one that breaks open, not apart, the one that can grow into greater capacity for the many forms of love. Only the supple heart can hold suffering in a way that opens to new life.”
― Parker J. Palmer, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old”
I try hard to continue to cultivate an open heart. This year, sometimes, that has been as hard as it has ever been. And this difficulty thankfully has caused in me the desire to redouble my efforts, knowing I will sometimes fail. It feels so wonderfully amazing to live in open heartedness.
Much love everyone! Wishes for a happy and healthy 2022!
(These are my own personal views and do not represent the views of any organization with which I am involved)
I don’t want to ask you to support any particular candidate or party. And I don’t think its a good idea either to share who I am leaning toward voting for. I did want to share some overall thoughts about the upcoming BC provincial election. I hope this would perhaps be helpful to some.
In the past several years, I have had the good fortune of meeting and working with MLAs from all parties represented in the legislature. I have spent time the major party leaders.
First, I want to say how much I respect and appreciate the quality of individuals who are MLAs in the province. I have the same feeling about the candidates I know who are not an MLA currently.
As I have shared with many provincial colleagues, I think the system within which they work is broken. It feels to me like you have to sell a part of your soul and give up a lot of your empathy to become an MLA. In this election, as per normal, the hard hearts and the closed minds are taking centre stage. And collaborative policy making, based on the overall best interests of British Columbians, can be lost.
I have been a strong proponent of electoral reform to a proportional representation system but proportional representation only works if the MLAs are willing to make it work, to give and take, to put province before party.
I really feel like this latest NDP minority government was a huge win for British Columbians. Premier Horgan and his cabinet were responsive and engaged authentically. The Green Party caucus helped to round out and broaden appeal of different initiatives and policies. And, although I wish there was more collaborative work between the NDP and the Liberals, the Liberals had some good successes in the minority legislature.
The success of the minority government and my desires for all hands continuing to be on deck during the pandemic contributed to my annoyance and surprise that the government called an election. We now have one elected official who is retiring, Carole James, as a caretaker "Minister of Everything" until a new government is sworn in. The NDP’s argument for calling this election essentially is that the government needs a stronger mandate to take strong action to help citizens during and after the pandemic. They are asking for a majority government.
NDP leader John Horgan is a strong leader with a friendly, heart on his sleeve type of demeanour. Yes, I don’t agree with his contention that the Green Party was becoming an unreliable partner. I do appreciate greatly many things he and his government have done for the province. They have accomplished a lot in a a little over three years. He was so wise to let Dr Henry be the guide and the face of BC pandemic response. He is an able campaigner and hopefully will lead with his plans for another mandate.
BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson is also a strong leader with many years of government experience. He is making the case that the election was unnecessary and also talking about how he will serve all British Columbians as we live through and recover from the pandemic. Andrew is not the most at ease campaigner or speaker. I’ve had the opportunity to sit at a table with him a few times. He seems much more comfortable around a table talking policy. He has struck me as very intelligent and often quite nimble in his thinking.
BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau and BC Green MLA Adam Olsen
Newly elected Green Leader Sonia Furstenau is relatively new to provincial politics but brings a wealth of her experience from her MLA experience thus far. The Green caucus, which has now shrunk from three to two with the departure of Andrew Weaver, was looped into so many different projects and initiatives in the minority legislature. Sonia has been able, thus far in the campaign, to articulate the views and plans of the BC Greens so well thus far in the election. I also wonder if there is a “Bonnie Henry effect” that could help Sonia attract votes. British Columbians have seen the steady, calm hand of a great female leader and that might make us more open to more female leadership. On the flip side, will the Greens have the resources to get their message out?
I don't think I've met the BC Conservative's leader, Trevor Bolin, and the party is struggling to get a lot of provincial coverage of their campaign. He is a long time Fort St John city councillor so that's strong experience. I think a lot of the more moderate BC Conservative views might have been subsumed into the BC Liberal policies but that's just an assumption on my part. I will try to learn more in the next weeks.
I will share some thoughts on the Kamloops riding candidates in a post to come.
Whenever I think about diversity and inclusion in Kamloops, my mind first goes to our amazing history of embracing diversity. I think about community leaders like John Fremont Smith, Len Marchand, and Peter Wing. I think about my Dad driving us to elementary school and little Arjun (I was once) almost always noting there was street we passed called “Singh Street”. I think about this community largely very much embraced my immigrant parents and their children.
I know, however, my thinking needs to try to engage with the whole picture. And there is definitely racism and discrimination in our community. There is systemic racism in some of our most powerful institutions. I’ve lived these experiences somewhat but I know many many people who have experienced racism and discrimination much more that I. The recent global spotlight on racism, after the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, has brought a lot of strong important emotions to the centre of public conversations - anger and joy, fear and hope, desires to fight and desires to collaborate.
In times like these, I seek to converse with good people who are involved, concerned, and who can seek positive outcomes. As a community representative, I feel a responsibility to try to be of service to a more inclusive community. I also think we need to move thoughtfully and empathetically as we decide how we move forward. There are very dark bitter places one can inhabit with these conversations and we need to instead find places of empowerment, hope, and community. Finding the most positive spaces can take time and a lot of energy. And there will be stumbles along the way.
Here are some the things I suggest we, as a community, explore doing:
Engage and educate each other: I don’t see a lot of success in the call out culture on an individual level. Yes, we must let people know when we feel they are being racist and / or discriminatory. This may stop the behaviour. But I am not sure it changes the views. This take fostering understanding and relations between different people with different backgrounds. This takes being empathetic to each other. If I say to someone “you are an awful racist”, I am not sure they will immediately agree and change. Their response seems more likely to be “no I am definitely not” and then the walls get built higher against any progress. Can we be empathetic to those who hold racist or discriminatory views? Where would we draw the line here? To me, these are important and interesting questions. I would potentially propose here facilitating public and private conversations between people of different backgrounds to build goodwill and understanding.
City council, city staff, the RCMP, and the Fire service should learn more about diversity, inclusion, and racism: City council has taken Indigenous Awareness training and regularly meets with T’kemlups Te Secwepemc colleagues and friends. I think it would be good to broaden this training to better understand the further diversity of the citizens we serve. This is more for me about being more aware of unconscious racism and discrimination and of systemic bias in practices and processes. And also, it makes it much less hospitable for any overt and conscious discrimination to occur. This training should be mandatory.
City hall should continue to build a diverse and inclusive workforce: From time to time, I field concerns that the city workforce does not represent the diversity of Kamloops. I am confident that there is no overt discrimination in city hiring practices and have worked with many people from diverse backgrounds all over city operations. The city does not have hiring quotas and I support an open hiring practice. I’d like to know more about efforts the city can make to outreach to communities that might have some barriers in easily accessing job opportunities. I think we need to ensure all citizens understand how city hiring practices are conducted. And I’d like to know how we are looking at unconscious bias and systemic racism and what we will do to eliminate these if they exist. And we need to be open to good faith feedback on how we can be more inclusive in hiring.
Remain open to ways to do better: This is tough and it will take time. But it has potential to be transformational. I think its so important to stay open minded to changes and not to get complacent with the first or second thing we undertake.
It's been such a fantastic experience. Thanks to my friend and our former Rotary exchange student Joel Pflomm in breaking in the car on the first ride. The car has not only been ghg free in operation, its been really fun to drive (very peppy). It has cost about $15 a month to power and has had very low maintenance expenses.
I've driven all over Kamloops, to Merritt, to Revelstoke (with a couple of passengers (Kathy Sinclair), and to Logan Lake. That's been the one slightly limiting factor of the car - it has a 160km maximum range most of the year, and about 100km in weather below -10 degrees celsius.
My lease was for four years. My wife advised a lease and it was a very smart move. Thank you Marsha Stewart!
In the past months, we have been researching different electric vehicles with a 350 to 400 km range which we could lease for roughly the same cost.
The Covid-19 situation put a bit of a dent in our test drive schedule but we were very happy today to pick up a 2020 Nissan Leaf with a 350km range.
I've appreciated the leadership of Sean Turner at River City Nissan in being one of the very first dealerships in Kamloops to stock electric vehicles and we both have felt well served by a very gentlemanly and friendly sales person in our friend Jonny Walker.
It was bittersweet. Our old car was so awesome. And we are looking for more to more road trips in the new one.
There are an increasing number of great EVs available from reputable local Kamloops dealerships. I'm happy to provide more details about my EV experiences.
(Have a head cold today. Medicated but wanted to get some thoughts down inspired by Dylan's writings.)
Donald Trump is now President of the United States. As far fetched as this statement seemed 8 months ago (or even 3 months ago), this is reality today. I have been stunned and saddened by many of President Trumps actions. It's not so much that I differ from him greatly on many issues. It's more about the rise of incivility and the disrespect for people who are minorities / marginalized in society.
The global Women's March inspired a lot of thinking about takeaways post the inauguration and the march.
My thoughtful friend Dylan Houlihan recently wrote on the things he would like to do to be even more welcoming in his own life. (It's great to see Dylan is blogging). I think he has written a really good list. But, I wonder if it's enough. Dylan concentrates his list mostly on what I could call progressive issues and causes. I also support these wholeheartedly. I also wonder if we need to include an appreciation for issues and causes more associated with conservatism. Issues like government regulation and taxation, free trade, and crime / safety?
Taxes is a good example here. As Dylan notes, citizen is a much more expansive (and better, in my opinion) term than taxpayer. But people are concerned about taxes and the ability to pay. People talk to me consistently about high taxes. This is a very authentic and legitimate concern. It doesn't at all mean that these folks don't care about making the community better. It will always be a balancing act.
We don't have to agree with someone to be empathetic. A lot of people who voted for Trump were people who felt left out / disengaged from the economic and political system. In my view, its important to listen across ideologies and viewpoints and to learn from each other. To be in relationship with as many people as possible. If we are truly try to break down some of the partisan divides, we need to embrace the diversity in our communities and countries. We need to do this in a respectful manner.
So, what I would likely add to Dylan's list is the desire to show empathy, learn, and dialogue with others who have very different views.
Thoughts as we begin a very interesting year...
Donald Trump and Temperament...