Friday, May 6, 2011

My Daughter's Eyes

As I drive home a new moon hangs unseen in the sky. The highway is dark, save for my feeble headlamps and distant farm lights twinkling in the blackness. Road noise and the voice of a victorious Prime Minister fill my cabin.

I cannot bear to listen anymore. I depress the power knob on my radio. Again I am alone. But not for long. My old companion, Despair, flits into the passenger seat.

There are many things that Despair could tell me. He could remind me that once again I backed the losing team. He could explain again how every time I dare to hope the universe punishes me. He could tell me I didn't do enough. But this time he shows me an image. He shows me my daughter's eyes.

Those round, staring blue-grey eyes watch and wonder. The lids crinkle when she smiles and bulge in surprise. They hide nothing and betray every emotion. So innocent, so unknowing.

Despair shows me those eyes aged and worn with hardship. He shows them narrow with cynicism. He shows them downcast and red-rimmed, weary with disappointment like her father's.

I see her fretting because she can't pay a medical bill. I see her exhausted, working two jobs. I see her begging. I see her huddled in a locked van with other terrified people, driven to a fate unguessed. I see her treading through unknown, barely-imagined burning landscapes where trees once grew.

Tonight her elders edged her toward one of those futures. They traded her health for lower taxes. They rewarded contempt for democracy. They chose to leave vast sandy expanses of waste and black tailings ponds for her generation to clean. They cared more about unregistered long guns than her. They sold her fate to Lockheed Martin. Tears blur the highway.

I wipe my eyes. Still Despair lurks next to me. There are two ways to banish him. I can battle him or I can ignore him.

If I choose to battle Despair, it will mean patience, vigilance and dedication. It will mean that I must lend my voice, my time and my life to prepare for the next campaign. I will speak, I will protest, I will write, I will persuade. And maybe, after voters see four years of the true, brutal agenda of these cynical opportunists they will hunger for change.

But I tire of yearning for change. Change will happen, regardless of my actions. Canada has survived worse debt and greater tyranny. Canada can wait for me in four years. If I ignore despair and live my life as a happy and free man, my daughter will see my example and learn the same. I love my family and joy lies in nurturing them, not righteous anger.

The decision of action versus inaction, yin versus yang, Confucius versus Tao weighs, but it can wait for tomorrow. Thirty-two kilometres away, my family slumbers in my soft bed. My daughter's eyes are relaxed in sleep. I want to embrace my wife and feel my baby's hand grip my finger. If peace and love cannot be found in government, at least I know they await me at home.