The New Normal Sally Campbell
As Rivera Sun (Editor of Nonviolence News, a weekly roundup of nonviolent actions for social justice around the globe) says, “In 2022, resistance is the only new normal. Keep it up, everyone. Our world needs you.” I find this particularly relevant these days when our politicians seem unable to hear, let alone respond to the will of the people.
Are we really that selfish and myopic that we can’t agree to waive patents for Covid vaccines to allow the majority of the world’s people access? Are we that war-mongering that we station Canadian troops on Russia’s borders in Latvia & the Ukraine, as part of NATO’s push into territory it promised Gorbachev NATO would not encroach upon when the Cold War ended?
Are we that blind and indifferent to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza that we ignore Canada’s role in funding and arming the Israeli military? (See Just Peace Advocates webinar: “Yes, Canada does arm and fund the Israeli military”, January, 2022.) Are we so sedated and/or comfortable with nuclear weapons in our world that we refuse to join the majority of the world’s nations in signing the Ban Treaty?
January 22 marks the first anniversary of the Ban Treaty, the UN Treaty on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. I wrote about this treaty a year ago in The Grape. What with the climate crisis and Covid, it might seem as if this treaty is irrelevant. Alas, with the US ramping up its new cold war against Russia and now China, it becomes more imperative than ever that we adhere to international law and expect other governments do so as well.
What might psychologists say about Canada’s blatant inconsistencies between what we say and what we do? They might raise the idea of the “shadow” – those parts of ourselves we don’t want to recognize or acknowledge, the less likeable parts, the potential for violence we carry within us, most often at an unconscious level. We’re not really aware of these aspects, though they drive much of our behaviour.
Every grouping also has a shadow – families, communities, religions, nations – all have dark sides we’d rather not acknowledge. Let’s look at Canada. When nations criticize other nations for behaviours they themselves engage in, but are blind to, it’s called “shadow projection”.  We in Canada, for example, like to think of ourselves as a peaceable nation, our global role one of diplomacy, support for “developing nations”, and peacekeeping. “What is a Canadian? An unarmed North American with health care.” Now this gives us a smile as it captures two highly valued aspects of established public policy. It also gives us a point of contrast with the US, one which invites a little smugness on the part of the tiny mouse living in the shadow of the giant. It has to do with our projection of our shadow onto the US. Perhaps we can focus on what we actually do as Canadians on the global stage rather than blaming the US for the state we’re in.
What we don’t often reckon with is our history of supporting empire and imperialism. As members of NATO, we have engaged in wars in former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, & Libya, to name a few. We now have Canadian Forces in Latvia & Ukraine, right on Russia’s borders. Our military budget is largely driven by our expected “contributions” to NATO. The Canadian government’s decision to purchase 88 fighter jets from the US is connected to NATO and NORAD. How well will fighter jets help anyone address climate crisis?
Canada has less than 45 people involved in the UN Peacekeeping Forces.
Former Ambassador to the UN Stephen Lewis has stated that a number of countries are now taking extreme nationalist positions; he cited the UK, US (under Trump), Brazil, India, Hungary, & the Philippines. Canada, he says, is a “small trading country, who relies on international agreements…Canada is listened to when our voice is authentic and when we stand by what we say”. PM Justin Trudeau is on record as saying that we’re committed to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. And yet, not only have we not signed the critically important Ban Treaty, we actively opposed its negotiation, and voted “no” when 130 of the world’s nations voted “yes”.
We say we want our decisions to be rooted in international law, yet we regularly look the other way when our allies breach it. Lewis says we need to maintain and support the International Criminal Court (ICC). We could help strengthen the UN and its global impact, but we have dealt ourselves out of a position of influence at the Security Council. According to Lewis, Canada lost its bid for a revolving seat on the Security Council (always held before when we stood for election) “because of our politics and policies”, such as buying a pipeline whilst giving lip service to the climate crisis (his example). To have a say in our foreign policy, Canadians need to let our leaders know what we want, with voices strong enough to be heard.
The Canadian Foreign Policy Institute (CFPI) is just two years old. Its purpose is to reevaluate Canada’s foreign policy and advocate for a progressive policy reflecting Canada’s role as a middle power, committed to multi-lateralism. World Beyond War Canada has offices in Winnipeg and Montreal. Just Peace Advocates out of Toronto is another emergent group worth exploring. Then there’s Canadians for Justice & Peace in the Middle East. And Progressive International, led by such influencers as Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, Vijay Prashad.
These groups offer realistic ways we can participate.
Stay-at-home periods can drive us crazy. They can also offer space to google groups such as these and to resist the inertia that keeps our world so filled with crushing inequity, suffering and danger. An added benefit is the increased sense of well-being that comes from being connected to our global community and joining the effort to create a better world. Our feisty little communities know about resistance. Why not channel that spirit toward resisting Canada’s mistaken priorities and its militarism? Could this become our new normal?
1 Masters, Dr. Robert A., Bringing Your Shadow Out of The Dark, Sounds True Publishing: Boulder, Co., 2018 @ 216
2 Meme gone viral
3 World Beyond War Webinar May 31, 2020, on Revitalizing the Canadian Peace Movement.
4 https://www.international .gc.ca/world-monde/international relations.