First Words – Winter 2020

My mother always said that she didn’t mind when her four children fought with one another.

And fight we did. We fought over petty things – jostling for “the front seat” when we were on the road or vying for the piece of cake with the most icing. We pinched and punched one another; we used threats like “I’ll pound you out” and we followed up on our threats. But woe betide (Mom’s phrase) if you were nasty. Fighting was inevitable amongst us four kids, but nastiness was inexcusable.

As I look back over the last few months in politics, it seems to me that the culture of nastiness is alive and well, despite my mom’s campaign to eradicate it. We can dismiss nastiness as a phenomenon that has arisen from the divisive US election, but nastiness can seep into our own lives. The world has been turned upside down over the last eight months and we are vulnerable – perfect conditions for nastiness to strike. It looms and lurks, eventually wending its way on a tailwind of fear into our souls unless – and it is a big unless – we take stock and remember that we are some of the luckiest people in the world. The air we breathe and the freedoms we enjoy are second to none. Yes, we should fight for our beliefs and values on every front, but we should also make sure the fight doesn’t take a nasty turn.

The Christmas season is always a time for reflection. When I read through the final drafts of the stories and articles in this issue, I realize the contributors and the content reflect a diverse mix of cultures within our own regional bubble. I am reminded that the richness of our communities is nurtured by that diversity. And woe betide if we don’t remember that kindness is the best weapon against nastiness and appreciate that we are blessed.

Merry Christmas