It is the night of November 8th, 2016 and Tom and I are driving to Calgary for work. When we leave Edmonton the world is one way, and by the time we get to Calgary it is another. We wonder if we have taken a wrong turn somewhere and mistakenly travelled back in time. We generally agree that this world we’ve constructed is often greedy, desperate, painful, and cruel, but that overall most people are trying every day to do the absolute best they can with the information they have available to them. But what we hear on the radio challenges us. It makes us think that maybe what people want more than anything is to hate. We stay up much later than we should in our disturbingly safe, comfy hotel room, watching people argue on television.
The next day we slink through our work. Everyone else seems to do the same. Nothing seems to matter. We joke that it should be a national day of mourning, in that revealing way people joke when they are saying something true. It seems like ignorance and fear have been propped up again, insurmountable obstacles in the face of difficult things that artists tend to want, like beauty. And for that day, we are complicit in this fear-induced regression the world is experiencing, because this is exactly the wrong attitude to have, this feeling of hopelessness. But we are afraid. Afraid that our voices, our work, will never have meaning, that this election result is indicative of a self-centred and ugly populism that we can never hope to swing. That we will never be able to turn someone’s head away from the narrow tunnel of their life to look at someone else’s and say: “that’s beautiful, the way you do that. I had no idea.”
This fear that we are letting in is as destructive as the fear that brought us here. This fear will keep you from opening up a book and seeing into the heart and the mind of a person who sees the world differently than you do. This fear will keep you from saying what you didn’t know was the perfect something for someone to hear. As I turn off the television that night, I tell myself: “if you believed in that power yesterday, you should believe in it tenfold today.”
People do not want to hate. It is just that they are afraid of being erased. Long ago there were people who walked around and said that the way to handle this fear of erasure is to love. And these people became priests. But to love someone without knowing them is a very hard thing to do and it requires a lot of time to think, and people did not have this time because they were too busy intermittently destroying and building to show their children what they could not say: that they loved them. And the priests saw that it was much easier to tell people to hate, because it required much less time to think, and there was never any time. The priests watched as people’s hate grew and grew until they were erasing each other by the tens or hundreds of thousands over disagreements about words they didn’t even know, and somehow this seemed simpler to people than sharing a loaf of bread or laughing at the lazy innocence of a pet. So it is that even now when people feel this fear of meaninglessness, of erasure, they are programmed to hate because that is all anyone has ever told them. It is easy for them to hate because they believe that they are hated in return, which of course is true, for they become the subject of others’ fear-avoidance. The priests meanwhile feel very clever, because they are drunk with power over creating so much hate. They sit far away from it all. Who knows what they think about. It won’t matter for very much longer anyway. Because, see: nobody puts much stock in the opinions of priests these days. It is a painful time, because we are struggling to find a replacement for the priests. For now we are trying out the businessmen, who look different from the priests but are their disciples. But the right replacement will come. Never fear.
Until next time.
Dylan – Edmonton, AB