I woke up on Saturday and checked my phone, like I had every morning this week, expecting to see another headline about how close the American election is, and how Joe Biden was inching closer to victory.
However, the headline was different this time. “Biden Wins.” At once, a wave of elation washed over me, followed quickly by a feeling that though this is an amazing victory for those trying to make the world a better place there is still much work that needs to be done.
I know it was not our election, and that in Canada we get the privilege of sitting and watching the drama unfold without having a direct stake in the outcome, but the person in the oval office exemplifies the character of the United States, and by extension western culture.
For the last four years, that culture has been one of narcissism, nihilism and oppression, with no regard for human life, cultural diversity, or the environment in which we live.While we are separated by a border (that is closed right now due to the pandemic), we don’t have the same kinds of borders we once did with our neighbours to the south. Ideas flow easily across it, and spread without regard to the national identity of the people. The last four years showed good people that bad people exist. It woke millions of white people up to the reality that many Indigenous and Black people face every day. The division we can see south of the border is present here as well, and we have our own problems that we need to fix.
“Biden Wins” is a relief. It means that there is a chance we can fix the things that are plaguing us before it is too late. “Biden Wins” means that we’re going in to overtime, and that everything depends on how we do from here on out. Although Biden did win, over 70 million people voted against him. The United States and the west by extension are horribly divided and nowhere near being fixed. Western Canada is divided, with talks of succession gaining more and more ground. The Wet’suwet’en crisis is ongoing, as is the Mi’kmaq crisis on the other side of the country. Other First Nations groups are fighting against colonialism, including those at 1492 Land Back Lane in Ontario, and incidents of police violence against people are still going on. On top of that, we have the COVID-19 pandemic, which is hitting record case numbers across the country. All of this is playing out against the backdrop of the climate crisis.
These are scary times, but you can make real change right now. Help people, cooperate, share, look out for each other, stand up for each other, do things out of kindness and your respect for other human beings, not just for a profit, enjoy the weather, plant a tree, start a compost bin, support a local business, write to your local politician, sign a petition, protest, get out of your toxic social media bubble, speak to people who are different than you, volunteer, donate money, help people in need, learn a skill and work to better the world. We have more in common than differences. We can do it, Saturday’s news is proof that we can do it.
Biden won on Saturday, that is good news for the world. But it doesn’t mean that the bad news of the world has gone away. Today the world can breathe a sigh of relief, but tomorrow, we have to get back to work and make sure that Trumpism never comes back.