I love language and digging into the origins of words. I realized during a zoom meeting the other day that some of the words I think of as common are brand new to others. I used the words “skinflint” and “dogsbody” and found out via the chat function that people were googling to find out what I was talking about.
Lorna Crozier is a dear friend and a genius in using words. She is, without doubt, a national treasure; one of Canada’s most gifted poets. The other day she told me that rather than take on a New Year’s Resolution she had picked a word for the year. It was new to me!
The word is “Respair.” It has fallen into oblivion, not used since around 1525, but essentially is the opposite of despair.
My mother had wanted to start The Society for Lost Positives. She had quite an entertaining rant on how great a person could look when shevelled; how well organized were the combobulated; how ethical are those who have ruth.
Respair has a place of honour in the Society for Lost Positives. I found this online: As a noun, respair means “the return of hope after a period of despair.” As a verb, respair means “to have hope again.”
I am more than ready for it! Let 2023 be the year that restores “respair” to common usage. Let us return to hope after a period of despair. I like the notion because it acknowledges we have been – or that we currently are – in a period of despair. We have to return to hope.
For society as a whole to do that requires that we individually find our way back to hope.
That is not easy. We live in a maelstrom of bad news. Climate emergency, pandemic, food insecurity, Putin’s war on Ukraine are all real and dangerous. None of it can be dismissed by trying for an artificial, forced effort at being hopeful.
We can become more hopeful by being more politically active. Feeling a sense of agency over our future lightens the sense of doom. I know I am feeling way more positive about climate action since becoming leader again of the Green Party, in partnership with Jonathan Pedneault. I am more committed than ever to getting the TMX pipeline canceled. We can and will stop the drilling off Newfoundland and Labrador, in Bay du Nord. I can see the path to ensuring that emissions of Greenhouse gases globally stop rising and start falling before 2025. That is the only path, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to hold to either 1.5 degrees C or 2 degrees C global average temperature increase over the global average temperature before the Industrial Revolution. Those are thresholds we must not cross. Tipping points we must not tip.
Now I feel more positive that Canada can make a difference. I acknowledge this may be delusional, but I feel a growing possibility of shift. Massive disequilibrium across many aspects of our society means that shifts can happen – and fast.
I watch for the signs of disruption. Modi’s investment of billions in Green hydrogen as a breakthrough for India. Lula taking back power in Brazil to protect the Amazon. COP15 agreeing to transformative realignment of priorities. Indigenous sovereignty movements everywhere.
Of course, there is an equally likely prospect of fascists succeeding with horrific attacks on women in the Taliban’s Afghanistan, Netanyahu’s return to power and anti-Constitutional proposals, destabilized social unrest in Peru, globally connected anti-democracy movements whether in Brazil, the USA, Russia or Canada. No nation is immune.
The virus of anti-authority conspiracy theories is present in Canada. Too close to home it was confirmed on Friday that the so-called bank robbery on June 28, 2022 in Saanich was nothing of the kind. As I had suspected, the two brothers from Duncan who were killed had driven to the Bank of Montreal in Saanich (in my riding in a peaceful neighbourhood I know well) not to rob the bank but to die, first killing as many policemen as possible. It is a miracle that no by-standers were killed. It is also a miracle that the policemen who were shot, some very seriously injured, survived. They survived physically, but still have trauma as do those bank workers and customers held hostage in the nightmarish event. I hope we do not stop the questioning of how these brothers, arguably living in one of the most privileged places on earth, became so isolated from their community.
Respairing will take a lot of another word embedded therein. Respair will take repair.
I recently met with a group of very distressed constituents. We had disagreed about vaccinations. But I so desperately want to find some way to heal those divisions. We sat in a circle in a friend’s living room and tried to hear each other for two and a half hours. I hope we made some progress. At least we were able to hug at the end. Demonizing the unvaccinated was a dreadful error by Justin Trudeau. It ranked with, or even eclipsed, Hilary Clinton’s appalling “basket of deplorables” line. I will not give up in my commitment to being able to disagree without being disagreeable.
Next week’s letter will likely be about Jonathan Pedneault’s and my tour through Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. We have two public events – details in the P.S.
In the meantime, enjoy the new era for respair!
If you are in the Halifax area:
What: Meet and Greet with Green Party members
When: 7PM – 9pm, Monday, January 23
Where: The Wooden Monkey, 1707 Grafton St, Halifax
January 24, 2023, at 6 pm, I will be giving a talk “How can we ensure governments keep their promises on climate and biodiversity.” This event is in-person and will take place in Room 105 at the Schulich School of Law, 6061 University Avenue, Halifax.
January 26, 7:00 pm, I will be giving a talk on why nuclear energy is not a solution to the climate crisis, Ted Daigle Auditorium, Edmund Casey Hall, 51 Dineen Drive, St. Thomas University, Fredericton, NB.
Note: JP and I are doing a lot of other events, not open to the public, including meeting the elected Green caucuses of PEI and NB, and a LOT of media!