21 Seconds

As my friend Lyse noted the other day, Rarely have 21 seconds of silence said so much.

Earlier this week Prime Minister Trudeau was asked about U.S. President Donald Trump’s use of tear gas against protesters to clear the way for a photo. And, the reporter added, If you don’t want to comment, what message do you think you are sending?

I was moved by what Trudeau said, and even more moved when he didn’t speak immediately. In his 21 seconds of silence, we were able to see his reflective and thoughtful reaction with regard to the message he would wish to send.

Trudeau’s silence showed us that a leader doesn’t always have to talk. Sometimes he can show us his feelings.

Some situations leave us at a loss for words but, when he did speak, our Prime Minister said We all watch in horror and consternation what’s going on in the United States. For me, that was an appropriate response that summed up what we’ve all been feeling. Horror and consternation. I thought it was also appropriate for him to then focus attention on racism in Canada and the need for us to act to correct injustice in our own country. And I was glad that, given the tense situation with the US –the extent of the virus there and the border being closed – he didn’t trigger a dangerous reaction from the American President, which could easily have happened.

Trudeau sent a good message. I heard it as a heartfelt response to an appalling situation, and also as a call to action.

We all need less talk and to take more well-considered action.

I’ve always been a bit of a blurter, but I’m trying to change. I recall what an indigenous friend told me many years ago: Use your eyes until you have seen what there is to see. Use your ears until you have heard what there is to hear. And, then, use your tongue.

The virus has made us all edgy and now, more than ever, we need to pause, before sounding off.

Late in his life my husband was often depressed about the everyday violence and depravity of the world. I found these lines in one of his journals:

Gang wars in Prince George
Teachers armed in Texas
Unlock the heart

We need to speak out and to act against violence and racism. Perhaps unlocking the heart is the place to start.

Enough said.

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