May these gates never be closed. These words are emblazoned on the Peace Arch, a monument that is a dedication to the sibling-hood of Canada and the USA. The arch marks the border between British Columbia in Canada and Washington State in the US.
As a younger woman, I stood beneath the arch on countless occasions at the height of the Cold War. It was a time when there were far fewer allied nations and as a Canadian teen I knew my closest allies were those I could reach through the arch to connect with. In 1984 the Americans were not just my neighbors, they were my family in every sense of the word.
Suddenly, it's 28 years later. You find yourself in 2012 in the midst of the US election and you realize, with shock and awe that the gate is closing - not because of economics or war or terrorist threat or because a guard is standing at the border locking the gate in front of you - but in the name of blind adherence to ideology.
So we, Canada, stand at the gate. We peer over at what is happening to our southern sister and we wonder why she is so willing to close us and the rest of the world out. We ponder, debate and discuss what could've happened to drive us so far apart. We examine the differences between us and we struggle with those things we can't comprehend about life on the other side of the 49th parallel. As a result of those discussions, we come to a few conclusions:
We don't understand why gay marriage is even an issue for our southerly neighbors. It's not made much of a difference up here aside from better weddings, less contention and more happiness. And love.
We don't "get" the preoccupation with the wombs of American women. There are no restrictions on abortion in Canada and that has not resulted in our nation being destroyed by God, nor has it resulted in women running amok, having abortions whenever the urge strikes them. We're left aghast at rape being twisted into a part of God's plan for procreation, not to mention the mere use of words like "rape" or "incest" to validate why women should be able to make these decisions for themselves.
The backlash against providing medical care for all? That causes us confusion as well. Why wouldn't you want to save the dying, heal the sick without worrying if it's a small portion of your taxes that are giving them life? When we measure this up against your love of Jesus, we don't recall Jesus asking Lazarus for his coverage information, or telling Lazarus he's against "Godcare".
While we're on the topic of Jesus, all the "God" talk in your campaigns leaves us in wonderment. God isn't a candidate. God isn't fixing your economy or government. Jesus isn't sweeping down on the day of the inauguration to set everything right again because you voted for "that" guy, nor is he damning your nation to eternal hell because you voted for the other guy. Electing a candidate because he loves Jesus won't grant you a miracle that changes everything for the better. It confuses us that you think it will.
It's not naiveté that causes us to think this way. It's basic human decency.
There are many ways to close a gate, but the way to lock it tightly is to say no to equality, no to human rights, no to caring for the 47%, and the sick and the hungry and the dying.
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free... I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door.."
America, your lamp is dying. And your Golden Door is tarnished.
On Tuesday, November 6th, I'll gather with friends to watch the results of the election. We are a gay couple, a couple of hippies, a conspiracy theorist, a Mormon, a Catholic and several atheists and even more conservatives. We will drink together (not the Mormon or the pregnant Catholic right winger) laugh together, toast each other and love every moment of that evening. But until the final results show up on the television screen, there will be a sombre note hanging in the air and even the atheists in the crowd will be clinging to the faith that the United States of America will get it right.
From the heart of Canada to the heart of the United States of America:
Please, don't close the gate.
"Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners and necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature has so joined together let no MAN put asunder." - John F. Kennedy