books

In Repair

We’ve kind of got this unique situation going on living here in New Brunswick, in the Miramichi region, which our ancestors settled when it was nothing but woods and wild animals and native tribes, where the greatest majority of our family still reside and will continue to call home well after I’m dead and gone. There’s this overwhelming sense of family and community here. How could it be any other way? I think we tend to take it for granted until someone comes along who doesn’t have deep family roots to any part of the world, who was merely born someplace and then settled elsewhere and elsewhere and elsewhere, who’s family are scattered throughout the corners of the earth only to be seen once every few years if they’re lucky. These people seem almost like freaks of nature to me, so far removed from my experience is theirs. But in reality there are probably a lot more people living that life than there are living one like mine.

I’ve been reading Nancy Huston’s The Mark of the Angel, which is set in France in 50s, 60s and beyond. The Second World War is close in the public conscious. Memories surface of slaughter in Hungary, Poland, and more. Conflict is happening in Algeria. There are freedom fighters and ethnic killings and displaced persons.

I’ve noticed the news about Georgia and Russia.

I wonder about Afghanistan and Iraq.

I think about genocide and try to fathom how we the people of the world can allow these crimes against humanity on the African continent and beyond.

I’m reading Sally Armstrong’s The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor, about the first woman settler of the Miramichi, the Mother of Tabusintac, who left her family behind to come to the new world to live the life she always dreamed of living.

All these people displaced, either being forced to flee their homes for fear of death or feeling they must abandon their roots in order to move forward.

It’s something I don’t think many of us living here with our deep family ties can even imagine. Yes, some people move away and don’t come back. Yes, a whole lot more of our people are going out west to work. But it’s not the same. It’s not even remotely the same. Imagine if soldiers came in the night with machetes, with guns. Imagine if they slaughtered everyone in their sight and burned our homes and businesses to the ground. Imagine if we had no choice but to run away on foot with nothing but the clothes on our back and try to get out of the country. Try to get on a ship that would take us to refugee camps where we would live like animals in a barn relying on the kindness of the world to feed us and look after us. My God! How would we survive? Would everyone be strong enough and lucky enough? Imagine having to suffer the grief of losing family members forever.

I can’t imagine. I just can’t. It seems impossible these things happen in the world. And yet Canada is a country of immigrants, many of them first generation, many of them having witnessed and escaped from the terror of war. Meanwhile I sit here in my beautiful life with the roots of my existence so deeply embedded in this place that I physically ache for the river’s landscape when I am away and I know there are horrors happening that I cannot even imagine, that I would be better off emotionally and mentally just to ignore and pretend into non-existence, and I know we should do something, the good citizens of the world should do something to stop this … but what? I sign a petition to pressure government. I say the occasional prayer. I donate the random dollar … what else is there? What can we do?

Mood: deep introspection
Drinking: coffee, french, black, organic, fair trade
Listening To: jubilee, patti smith
Hair: ponied

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Categories: books, family, state of mind, world

2 replies »

  1. speaking of family and genocide, how did we canadian human beings, many human beings – it wasn’t just one crazy person – take all those First Nation children away far from their families and put them in residential schools? that is unfathomable to me and was a genocide too.
    -t

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  2. I know! I think of this too and I just don’t understand. What was the thinking behind that? How was it allowed to happen? And it didn’t happen very long ago at all. It’s not so far removed. I really don’t understand why the human race has the desire to hurt its own. It’s beyond comprehension.

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