Thursday, September 26, 2019

Adam Gopnick

You'll be happy to know my bike Marilyn now has two beautiful new wheels. The bike repair guy said someone else came in the same day, from the same area, with a vandalized bike. It's tempting to go back and leave a shiny bike as a decoy to try to catch this creep. But life is too short.

My cold is sitting in my lungs and refuses to budge. Infuriating. Ah well.

Monday night's excitement, after the big Ryerson class, the first where they read their stuff - wonderful! - was seeing Macca on Colbert. Yes, I stayed up until midnight, because I am a superfan. He told some of the same old stories he tells at his concerts - Jimi Hendrix playing Sgt. Pepper's two days after the record was released - but I could listen to him forever.


Tuesday's thrill, a little more intellectual - being Lynn Bevan's guest at the 17th Lafontaine-Baldwin Lecture, this one by Adam Gopnick. I didn't know these two politicians, one Upper Canadian and one Lower, worked together in the 1840's to help create Canadian democracy. Gopnick was learned and eloquent, as ever, about the threats to democratic institutions right now. I came away with a renewed sense of the importance of community, activism at the local level. He said:
Liberal democracy celebrates both inclusion and individuality, and both of those are under siege as they have not been since the thirties.

Rule of law, open elections, universities where free speech is valued – these things are fragile. Those who have not lived through social chaos take them for granted.

We need to guarantee the permanent principle of pluralism. We do that by building community – social capital – the commonplace civilization. By acts of sympathetic imagination. Compassion.

Got it. Will do my best. Will be at the climate march tomorrow with Anna and the boys. As I walked to the Gopnick event, I ran into a climate protest, students closing down Bloor Street at rush hour. We'd better get used to this.

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