How to live in the age of incivility

Like many, I watched the first American debate last night. It was deeply disturbing and it is still resonating today. This is the quote that comes to me this morning.

But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight / Got to kick at the darkness ’til it bleeds daylight.
— Bruce Cockburn

For me, it is not an option not to write right now, but I don’t want to focus on the trainwreck that is Donald Trump. I want to write about incivility – much of what is concerning me has gone on for a long time – Trump is just a symptom of a larger problem.

I want to write about this.

I take a risk by doing this. I do not live on some remote island. I work for a local university and I have lots of social contacts. It pains me that I need to be so careful in what I write so as not to ruffle the feathers of people in power. People in power do not think or worry about abusing that power or affecting people who do not share their power or influence.

In the first two cases, I will anchor my post to an article – one on the Dempsey Community Centre here in Ottawa, the second, a great article by David Jefferess a university professor at UBC’s Okanagan campus.

In the third instance, there is no article. My story is hidden mainly because when a person is the victim of incivility and a power imbalance they do not want to talk about these things. The overwhelming emotion that comes from being at the sharp end of a power imbalance is shame. To talk about these situations, even in my case four years after the incident is very hard to do. However, in an age of incivility, you really do need to kick at the darkness.

It is OK to do this. I hope it will do some good somewhere.

Next week, I will start with the loss of the Dempsey Community Centre here in Ottawa.