Opinion » Pique'n Yer Interest

What can I say?



It can be difficult to fill this space.

That's not to say there aren't a multitude of topics about which to write, as we face issues here in the resort and as a province, country and planet.

But on many of the important issues, the lead commentators are a lot like me — male, white, straight, never really wanting for money.

Of course, they're commenting on issues that don't really affect them, at least not directly or primarily.

They affect women. They affect people of colour. They affect folks in precarious financial situations.

It can be difficult to empathize with people who aren't like you if you don't know what they experience on a daily basis. When the dominant media voices aren't able to understand the grievances or concerns, it doesn't make for effective commentary.

It results in blustering breath being wasted how San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (and the handful of other players who followed him) disrespect the American military for trying to raise awareness of police brutality against people of colour by refusing to stand for the anthem. Or how he doesn't have the right to criticize the system that made him a millionaire — never mind that money doesn't insulate against profiling.

It results in Hillary Clinton's health and general fitness to lead the country being made a campaign issue. Clinton isn't a perfect candidate with a squeaky-clean record and shouldn't be exempt from questioning over how she would govern if elected. Speculating about her health is incredibly irresponsible.

Sure, there are black columnists who have criticized Kaepernick and women on Fox News who have eviscerated Clinton. And there are men who are white, privileged financially and otherwise, who speak up and write in support of people who aren't like them.

This column isn't meant to put people in a box. Those of one race, sex or religion should not be expected to all think alike. I certainly hope I'm not expected to be a mouthpiece for straight, white men exclusively. You'll never get into someone's head and know exactly what they've experienced, what they've decided is important or irrelevant as to how they conduct themselves, or what their motivations are.

Hopefully, most are being genuine, at the very least. But some could see the example set by the dominant commentators and feel the need to parrot those opinions for their own ends.

For better or worse, it's easier than ever for people to share their perspectives through Twitter and other social platforms. Too often, it takes the form of hatred and harassment.

But on the flip side, there are opportunities to listen to commonly silenced voices and, ideally, learn a thing or two. The #YesAllWomen campaign helped counter the dominant, dismissive "not all men" chorus of primarily white men that shouts down legitimate concerns with an "It wasn't me!" There are opportunities to listen to LGBTQ+ folks, people of colour and survivors of sexual assault among others. But it's not their job or responsibility to educate you. Go read books or essays by members of the community you feel you need to learn more about and once you've made efforts to understand on your own time, then try to have a discussion if you need further information.

Not all men are evil and not all white people are evil and not all police officers are evil just like not all women are evil and not all people of colour are evil and not all protestors are evil. Some are, sure. Some also receive the benefit of the doubt when they've done wrong. Some are vilified when they haven't done anything wrong.

Having this space is a massive privilege and comes with responsibility. Maybe it's overly optimistic, but when possible, we should use it to try to bring about positive change. I know sometimes it's been a fluffier, navel-gazing anecdote about settling into the community or enjoying being part of a hockey pool, and if readers can relate and get a smile or a chuckle, that's great. Life isn't all doom and gloom. But so many people seem trapped in their own echo chambers, eager to reinforce what they already believe. When those beliefs are incorrect, we get angry, vitriolic and inflammatory rhetoric like that being spewed by the Donald Trump campaign, wishing ill toward people who aren't like them.

It's trite but true — we have two ears and one mouth.

And if I'm being asked to speak or asked for an opinion, here it is: we should listen to those who know best and, in many cases, it's not me. I'll be back again in a few weeks trying to share something that hasn't already been said, but in the meantime, I urge you, listen more closely and try to pick up a voice you've never heard.

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