There is room for lead­er­ship after Stan­ley ver­dict

We must build the future to­gether, Aaron Pa­que­tte says

Edmonton Journal - - OPINION - Aaron Pa­que­tte is an au­thor, artist, speaker and Ed­mon­ton city coun­cil­lor for Ward 4. He has Cree and Métis her­itage.

Coun. Aaron Pa­que­tte posted a se­ries of tweets in re­sponse to the ver­dict in the Ger­ald Stan­ley trial. They ap­pear here in the for­mat of a guest col­umn.

I’ve been asked to make a state­ment re: #ColtenBoushie #Stan­leyTrial. As an elected of­fi­cial — even lo­cally and in an­other prov­ince — it would be ir­re­spon­si­ble to make any state­ment that might colour per­spec­tives in the event of what may be an in­evitable ap­peal.

Ad­di­tion­ally there is a nec­es­sary sep­a­ra­tion be­tween ju­di­cial, leg­isla­tive and ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers in this coun­try. They are par­al­lel sys­tems that should, as far as is pos­si­ble, stay in their lanes. This is im­por­tant.

There is al­ready di­vi­sion. By of­fer­ing my own per­sonal thoughts and words I would be deep­en­ing this di­vi­sion with­out ac­com­plish­ing any­thing be­yond sig­nalling virtue.

Any words about the sys­tem, or that “we must do better,” or that peo­ple should “re­main calm,” or of­fer­ing my “thoughts and prayers,” ac­com­plishes noth­ing. Lit­er­ally noth­ing re­sem­bling progress or jus­tice or work hap­pens with such state­ments.

But there is room for lead­er­ship. It can come from any­where. It can come from you. We’re more than our daily (or cen­turies of ) bat­tles. Hav­ing vi­sion means we can see be­yond the trou­bles of to­day and re­al­ize that any future we build, we must build to­gether. That is ap­par­ent.

Fam­i­lies have been shat­tered. Com­mu­ni­ties have been shat­tered. And this will keep hap­pen­ing un­til we all stand up and see each other not as fools or mon­sters, but as neigh­bours and fam­ily.

Change is easy, and we can all do it. Ad­mit­ting we need to get to change is our chal­lenge. They have a fancy term for how hard it is for us to con­sider other/dif­fer­ent view­points. It’s called cog­ni­tive dis­so­nance.

What is it? Well, sim­ply put, cog­ni­tive dis­so­nance means there is ac­tual dis­com­fort and pain in con­sid­er­ing other points of view. We don’t like do­ing it. At all. Even though it’s nec­es­sary for growth. We fight it! We can be stronger than that. We are stronger than that.

I’m not go­ing to tell you there is a moun­tain we will all climb to­gether, hand in hand. I would love to tell you that. But I can’t. But there is a place. And you’ll come with your bur­dens. You will ar­rive ex­hausted. You may even be dis­trust­ful.

Ex­pe­ri­ence will have taught you that others blame you for events that feel be­yond your con­trol, for sys­tems that you didn’t con­sciously build or sup­port. And that chafes. Of course it does. We’re all heroes in our own sto­ries, right? It hurts to be called vil­lain.

So my sug­ges­tion is sim­ple. Come to the place. It’s a place not of peace, but of strug­gle. A place where we de­mand of our­selves hu­mil­ity. Where we use our ears, our in­tel­lect, our sense and our heart.

You don’t have to love — or even like. But you cer­tainly can’t hate. It’s just not go­ing to get us there. Nei­ther is mock­ery, gloat­ing, trolling or “just ask­ing ” those far from in­no­cent, in­sid­i­ous ques­tions that per­pet­u­ate di­vi­sion. If you can’t do that, you’re do­ing it wrong.

So come to that place where we do it right. We will strive to un­der­stand one an­other — even when it’s hard! We’ll be open to other per­spec­tives so that at the least we can un­der­stand those view­points with some com­pas­sion — even if we can’t agree.

At least it’s a start. The weary, well-trod path of anger and fight­ing is deep. It takes work to step into that new, rich soil to carve out a good road, in a good way. But we’re not afraid of work. And we’re not afraid. We can stand to­gether even if we are apart.

If you’re not into it, then step aside and let the work­ers work. You’re al­ways still wel­come to join in. Fam­i­lies are shat­tered. Com­mu­ni­ties are shat­tered. It’s time to put it to­gether. To­gether.

The weary, well-trod path of anger and fight­ing is deep. It takes work to step into that new, rich soil to carve out a good road, in a good way.


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