Another Thursday and so another meeting in the atrium of the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library.
It's now been over one year since Vancouver bloggers and readers decided to take a chance and seek out allies in public places. It was with undeniable hesitation that the first step was taken, but once through the doors it was easier to continue, and one meeting became two, then ten, now over 50.
What good does it do? One might as well ask, what good does it do to get out of bed in the morning, what good does it do to hold down a job, to provide needed service to other Canadians, to better oneself morally, intellectually, financially. We live until we die, and since the end of the road is the one predictable truth everyone can agree upon, it may be within the wiring of human nature itself to doubt the usefulness of elevating one's life along the way, since it ends with an ending so final and so complete. One day there is no tomorrow, so why work towards a better one?
While it may be natural to feel those temptations, it is certainly not civilized to fall to them.
The important step is to connect to others, and embrace something bigger than ourself. In this embrace, a part may fall off but the whole keeps going, and it is to support the ongoing journey of the larger whole that we as individuals steel ourselves to rise to the occasion. As we support the ongoing progress of the group, so too will we be supported by the next generation who add themselves to the march.
Watching the various wildlife with which we share our city, we can learn much about how similar we may be to them, yet how vastly different as well. We can reach out to fellow members of our species and connect with them in ways that Vancouver's ubiquitous seagulls never will. We can share experiences, build upon the labor of generations past, we can work not as a flock, nor a group, but as a TEAM, and inside that difference lies all the value of civilization.
Museum curators who can heap genuine praise on brutes like Stalin can only do so by disconnecting themselves from vast numbers of fellow countrymen, to the point where suffering is only suffering if it happens to them. Newspaper editors can label stories of women being burned and beaten to death as "wacky" only if they disconnect themselves from the female half of their species, and see this half as an "other", equal to that of any other animal.
Connecting to others does not mean blind agreement, it does not involve total submersion of self, a denial of the individual within the group; it does not mean disagreements will evaporate, never to return. The embrace of others must also be accompanied with the agreement to disagree, and to somehow forestall the disagreement from leading to seperation. The easiest way to settle a dispute, is to eliminate the person with whom we disagree. The ease of the choice is not license to select it; such natural, animal-like instincts must be suppressed and negotiated. This struggle is part of the connection, part of the agreement, part of the Covenant.
As human beings, we seem to be born not knowing how to make these connections, only possessing the nagging intuition that such Covenants could be made. Some people spend their whole lives on the outside of such teams, looking in, walking around them, yet never breaking the circle and the welcoming embrace of those within. The longer the time spent on the outside, the easier it becomes to silence the faint whisper that such attempts to rise above nature are valuable, indeed glorious, as they reflect the potential of the human animal to rise above our world's other creatures.
Wearing blue scarfs, in solidarity with France's courageous members of the Blue Revolution, we meet again tonight from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, in the shadow of a celebration of learning, the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library.
Don't be like this hesitant seagull: join us.