Good Sunday Morning! And Happy New Year’s Eve.
Farewell to 2023. And not a fond farewell. All in all, a pretty dreadful year. The entire year was dominated by one crisis layered on another. Not one crisis after another as the reality of a world of polycrisis sinks in. As I reconstruct the last few years, I think it is important to refresh collective memory. Jane Jacobs was right in Dark Age Ahead when she wrote we suffer from collective amnesia. She was speaking of our forgetting what good quality education looks like and what it takes to defend public health care and community cohesion. The demagoguery of the likes of Pierre Poilievre depends on a form of societal amnesia and a willingness to find someone to blame for every crisis as if only one force is involved. This was brought home to me on our train journey when John found himself chatting with a fellow we initially experienced as a charming, intelligent tourist from Vermont. A retired doctor who slowly revealed himself to be a died in the wool Trump supporter, climate denier who, just like Poilievre’s indictments of Trudeau, attacked Biden as solely responsible for inflation in the US. John tried so kindly to suggest inflation was happening globally and could not possibly be due to one person much less one government. Confronting polycrisis demands that we resist the temptations of over-simplification.
In 2022 it was still possible to think one crisis ended before another began. The pandemic had its beginnings in late 2019 but impacted our lives starting in spring 2020. In 2022 we started getting used to the term “variants of concern” with the lifting of most restrictions early in that year. We may never have a moment that marks the “end” of Covid, but the days when I sanitized the kitchen counter before unpacking groceries does seem a very long time ago. Once MPs could sit together again in Parliament, the crises of 2022 seemed to continue more sequentially, with the convoy rolling into Ottawa, in late January 2022 and gone by late February 2022 when the next crisis landed with terrifying impact in Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. For all of 2023 that war has had a global impact, not only in the trauma of loss of lives and political instability. Putin’s war on Ukraine sparked a global inflationary spiral. As John patiently explained to the rampant Trump supporter on the train, all modern industrialized nations’ economies have been hit with an affordability crisis. Grocery prices have been hit with the double whammy of Putin’s war and its sharp impact on fossil fuel prices as well as interruptions of grain exports. Food prices have also increased due to extreme climate events — impacting harvests in places all around the world. The hang-over impacts of the pandemic still exert pressures and interruptions on supply chains.
The overlay of constant and accelerating climate crisis contributed to chronic personal and societal stress.
On top of all those pre-existing crises 2023 was increasingly devastating due to the Hamas attack of October 7 and its brutal aftermath. The world seems to stand on the sidelines, collectively wringing our hands as genocide unfolds in real time.
2024 dawns with critical elections all around the world – the USA, UK, Russia (to the extent it has real elections), Venezuela, and on and on — basically half the world’s democracies will have national elections in 2024. The one that is most critical to questions of peace, geopolitical stability and climate action, is that in the US and the threat of a Trump win.
I am of the view that Canada’s next federal election will be in October 2025, but that is not a certainty.
It was Barbados prime minister Mia Mottley who mentioned in a COP28 press conference that we live in “a poly-crisis world.” It is that that we need to understand heading into 2024. The threats and crises do not come separately or sequentially. But then neither do the opportunities and promises for change. The greater the global disequilibrium the greater the hope for a radical and deep transformation.
And strangely enough, our chances for a positive future may depend more than any other factor on how much we are prepared to believe in its possibilities. Optimism begets optimism in real ways.
I was struck by the end of year polling by Angus Reid of Canada’s public mood – are we happy? The surge in polling for Poilievere’s brand of Conservatism is reaping the harvest of “rage farming”. All around the world, populist-nationalist-right wing fortunes rise on public anger and dissatisfaction.
The news is encouraging. Most Canadians are happy. The unhappy number has notched up a bit, but far less than news coverage and the decibel level in Parliament would suggest.
My friends at Policy magazine editorialized:
The Angus Reid Institute delivered a snapshot of the mood of the nation this week that seems to capture what may be an early contender for word-of-the-year 2024: Contradiction. Canadians are overwhelmingly happy — if you add the 58% who are pretty happy and 12% who are very happy — but down nine points from 79% in 2016. That’s actually quite remarkable, when you factor in the pandemic trauma, polycrisis stupefaction, propaganda warp, climate anxiety, autocracy creep and normalcy nostalgia that have all become “things” in the intervening years. And while the ARI Life Satisfaction Index indicates a drop in overall happiness since 2016, the word “grateful” was the one cited by more Canadians than any other (with, paradoxically enough, “exhausting” in a near-photo finish), at 37%, to describe their 2023.
So one cannot help but be grateful to live in a country where the word “grateful” is the one most often chosen to describe how our fellow citizens describe their emotions at the close of 2023.
In 2024, in early spring, I am looking forward to hitting the road on a national leaders’ tour with my partner in leadership, Jonathan Pedneault. Increasingly we see our role as Greens as finding ways to amplify that gratitude into activism for a positive and green future. We need to fortify our collective spirit of resilience and resistance – resilience in face of coming storms and resistance to the anti-Democratic forces of selfishness, greed and their enabler – apathy.
We may be able to look back at 2023, as the Guardian tells us many scientists think is possible, as the beginning of the end of fossil fuels, but only if we harness the forces of disruption and Green revolution against the deep and abiding power of the status quo.
Landing again on gratitude, thanks to everyone who answered the call to donate – yet again — to the Green Party of Canada before midnight tonight. If you have not yet done so, please do it now. Here’s the link: https://www.greenparty.ca/en/civicrm/contribute/transact?id=1&source=NC.W.MABU
Please donate so that we can start 2024 in the black and ready to roll out plans for this — pre-election — year. Every day is now a critical day. We have no time to waste in spreading a good word – And that message? “it is late, but it is not too late — we can save the world!”
We can all of us, all in Canada and globally who hold a Green promise for the planet and all of us human and non-human who call it home. We can make a huge difference in 2024, in every corner of the world with every ounce of our strength.
Together we can make it a very Happy New Year!
With love and hope and deep gratitude to you!
Can I ask a favour? We have still not landed on the name for our national leaders’ tour. We have been considering the “Green Solutions tour”- “the Green awakening…” “Green power revolution…” still quite undecided. The last big national leader’s tour was in 2019, “the Community Matters tour.” Should this be the 2024 Community Matters Tour? The subscribers’ list to this little letter is a thoughtful group and I love hearing from you… so if you come up with a good tour name or like one of the ones above, please let me know! We will be rolling into a town near you!
Love and thanks,
P.S. If you’ve missed a week of Good Sunday Morning, you can find past issues in the archives.
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