Why I won’t be moving to Canada

“All this Donald Trump business… I just can’t handle it, it’s too much. If he is elected President, I am just moving to Canada”, said my friend. I replied with a nervous chuckle and shifted uncomfortably in my chair.

It is not the first time I have heard this. Just like many of us, this notion has been tossed around since Trump started running for the Republican nominee: After’s his big win on Super Tuesday, Canadian immigration pages experienced delays, presumably from heavy traffic, and there is a website promoting a Canadian island to accept “Trump refugees”. NPR even did a segment on a dating site that connects Americans and Canadians (and it wasn’t on April Fool’s Day).

And, now that Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee, I woke up to a Facebook feed that was blowing up with declarations of moving to Canada.

I get it. It’s a joke. Kind of.

Behind every joke, there is a gleaming pearl of truth, something that is an astute and real commentary on our world. And the grain of truth behind this joke is something worth examining.

What do we do when we encounter adversity? What do we do when things do not go our way? What do we do when we feel scared and powerless and like there is no hope? Do we simply throw our hands up, pack our bags and start hiking?

That is exactly the sentiment behind the “move to Canada” idea. A Trump presidency would simply be too hard, outraging, terrifying, frustrating to endure. And all of this when Trump is not even president yet. Before we even know the outcome, we are already planning our escape. Do we really retreat at even the suggestion of adversity? Do we throw our hands up and walk away before the battle has even begun?

I think about the conversation between myself and my friend. Just like me, she runs an afterschool program in a low-income, mostly Latino school system. If Donald Trump became President, wouldn’t some of his first actions be to cut enrichment education funding and start deporting the families of our students? If she left, wouldn’t she be abandoning her students at the moment they most needed her, when they most need an adult ally and advocate? And, as Trump would set out to deny the rights of Muslims or immigrants, cut funding for women’s health care or derail the Paris Climate Accords, wouldn’t that be the time that our nation would need us the most, that it would most need people who are willing to stand up and speak out and work to create a more peaceful world?

I think so. That is why, no matter who becomes president, even if it is Charles and David Koch themselves, I am staying right here. Stubbornly, defiantly, I am planted and rooted and will not be moved or swayed from working to usher in the Great Turning.

There is the bigger picture to this too: There are greater threats facing us than the next president. Right now, our planet is facing some mighty tempest: Climate change, an anthropogenic mass extinction, overwhelming biodiversity loss, a future planetary scramble for shrinking resources in an increasingly hot planet that is hosting more humans than it has ever before.

And in the face of all of this, how many times have you heard people joke about going to Mars? Again, I know it’s partially a joke, but it is the same sentiment of already planning our escape before we even know what is going to happen.  If our tendency is to retreat when things got tough or scary or we feel hopeless, then unfortunately defeat sounds pretty likely.

This is something I refuse to do, or even joke about. Buddhist scholar and eco-philosopher Joanna Macy (who is also the inspiration for this blog!!) puts it this way: Think into the future, into our future generations. They will know that, right now, we are watching species go extinct and the ice caps shrink and humans go hungry. Wouldn’t you want to be here for it? Wouldn’t you want the opportunity to heartfully bare witness to that. And wouldn’t you want the opportunity to do what you can, however small? Instead of abandoning your planetary sisters and brothers wouldn’t you want to know that you stood vigil and vigilant as things decayed, both baring witness and working tirelessly to stop it, to usher in something new? Wouldn’t you want to know that, instead of turning your back, you had the courage to be with pain, to pray and work and create opportunities for change?

If anything, the massive challenges we face today– Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric filling our airwaves, an unjust political system, the potentials of climate change and the dying of species– are not a opportunity to jump ship. They are a clear and salient call to action; they are a new job title for each of us as we courageously birth what contributions we have; they are an opportunity for boldness and commitment and digging in our stubborn heals even more, believing in even more and working towards even more the idea of a more just and beautiful and regenerative world.

So, no matter who becomes president, no matter what happens to our precious planet, I am not going anywhere. I am digging my heals in deeper, and working even harder and opening my heart even wider.

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