The Great Divide

        As we’re nearing the end of summer – already – our daily lives are still ruled by the covid-19 pandemic. Although we know more about it, have better tools for control, testing and tracing, are closer to a vaccine and a treatment than five months ago, we are a long way from eradication or even controlling the virus. Everything has changed: Social behavior, schools, work environments, sports, entertainment, travel, restaurants and we are impacted in every facet of life and across the globe. We wear masks, avoid physical contact like hugs and kisses and make circles around each other. Such were my thoughts as I walked along the shore to our weekly chat over a couple of brews. Not much has changed there. Camp was already seated in our usual corner and lost no time to launch into a tirade featuring our wily and unpredictable neighbour to the south.

            ‘The American divide is about as deep and wide as the Grand Canyon,’ Camp said, ‘and the future looks grim. We put our hopes into the November election which is far from certain to solve anything. Even a change of presidents will not fix a broken system. We have one faction of the American people who want a better social contract, based on science and altruism, a chief that doesn’t lie, cheat and rewrite history by tweet, a fair healthcare system for all, a better assimilation of the diverse races and cultures, safer neighbourhoods and a healthier environment. The other side wants a closed and walled-in society that is regulated by religion, the first amendment to bear arms, favours dogma over science, wants law and order enforced by more police on the streets, promotes protectionism and unfettered extraction of fossil fuels and supports a president that has no conscience, no empathy, no education, no ability to lead and believes in conspiracy theories and himself. Two zoom conventions later, both glamorous sales events with evangelical undertones, we are no closer to a society that seeks dialogue instead of confrontation, that uses common sense and altruisms for its people and that offers a plan and willingness towards a sustainable future for our children and grandkids.’

            ‘You make it sound hopeless and doomed to failure,’ I said, rather perturbed by Camp’s bleak outlook. Maybe my friend needs a holiday or a cannabis prescription. 

            ‘There is also a third group, which are the ones who don’t get to vote, either by systemic suppression or because they are disenfranchised by simple poverty or race. And don’t forget the millions of immigrants, many of whom can’t vote, and the teenagers who are also left out of the process to shape their future.’

            ‘And the ones who want to vote by mail but who might not be able to have their vote counted due to the forced collapse of the US postal service,’ I said. 

            ‘Which leaves a plutocracy, which is a country or society governed by the wealthy, an autocracy, which is rule by one person with absolute power, basically a dictatorship.’

             ‘Not exactly the world’s greatest democracy,’ I said. We both drank our beers, focusing on the postcard vista of our harbour and Keats Island.

            ‘You don’t sound any more positive than I do,’ Camp said. ‘You’re not exactly the optimist you would like people to see you as.’

            ‘I’m not a pessimist either, just a realist,’ I said.

            ‘And you don’t criticize, you just observe, right?’ Camp said, laughing. 

            ‘You seem to be in a good mood,’ Rosy said. ‘Is it because of the new Prime Minister?’

            ‘Who is that? Oh, you mean Erin O’Toole, the new conservative leader?’ Camp said.

            ‘Yeah, I guess so,’ Rosy said. ‘But didn’t Trudeau just close up shop and go home?’

            ‘It’s called prorogued. He suspended parliament for a month but he will be back,’ Camp explained.

            ‘I wish I could just suspend work for a month and still get paid. What’s that called? Prorogued? I’ll check it out.’

            ‘Before you do that, please don’t forget us Rosie. We’re still thirsty.’

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