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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Thursday 3 December 2015

Power, Risk, Movement

This is a fascinating subject - to understand conflict and resolution is to understand humanity.

Some of the toughest-talking politicians out there are fighting hard to keep six refugees beyond their borders, even though they don't fight that hard when it comes to ensuring people have access to guns.

It's like the time a group of powerful, tough-talking folk bullied and threatened little black students simply trying to go to school and get an education.

The West looks at foreign conflicts and asks "how can we have the maximum impact with the minimal risk?" We're still arming and training rebels - tomorrow's opponents, as history keeps reminding us - but now we're employing smart bombs and drones, keeping our people out of harms way.

Those charged with keeping our communities safe - police and soldiers in particular - face unprecedented risks and yes, need protection.  Their job, however, involves risk by its very nature.

The same holds true for those other folk we charge with keeping our communities healthy and safe - educators, healthcare practitioners, those who care for those less able to care for themselves.  If you're a teacher, you put yourself in the line of fire every time you break up a fight, or calm down an explosive student, or face an explosive parent.  There are all kinds of risks that come with all these jobs that the average person doesn't know and, frankly, doesn't care about.

Folks like these - the front line of community, whether paid or volunteer - they take risks every day, go to the communities where security forces are most frequently sent, only they do so without guns.

Their shield is their belief in what they do, the need for people like them to change the world, save the next generation from needing the walls and the guns and the distance by empowering, not enforcing with power.

The most powerful people in history - those who led movements, religious or civil, weren't armed with swords, but with messages.  Those messages resonated and changed the world.

Which begs the question - what are we trying to accomplish with heavily armed guards, firewalls and strong surveillance measures?  Is living in fear, cloistered behind our borders how we choose to define freedom?  Do we want to remove the risk of anything bad happening - and if so, are we willing to give up the chance for something fresh and good to happen as well?

I believe we, as a species, are coming from a place of fear, isolation and top-down power structures and moving towards, in fits and spurts, true community.  I believe it's a slow process, full of misteps, wrong turns and even periodic reversals.  The long-term trajectory, however, is positive.  

We will get there.

It's a dangerous world full of risk, perils and change; we will need to make some painful adaptations to live beyond our caves.  We'll have to get used to sharing, too.

When we meet on common ground, and bring the best we have to offer together, we can build something greater.

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