Who am I, anyway?

The Liberal Agenda:

Since moving back to Vancouver, I’ve gotten involved in a few things.

I started volunteering with a non-partisan, pro – environment, pro – democracy group that is working to ensure that BC’s coast is protected from pipeline expansion. They do other things too, but most of what I do, is spend one weeknight per week with my team, entering the signatures of people that have signed a petition (the signatures would be used should the provincial government move forward with pipeline expansion – so that we could submit the signatures and we would be able, as a province, to vote on the issue). There are better ways to explain it – but this is the most straightforward way I personally can.

While the organization is non-partisan, most of the volunteers are not. At meetings we can all congratulate each other for hating the Conservative party, and wanting to Stop Harper. And buying ethical coffee, and wearing ethical clothes, and riding our bikes or taking transit to meetings, and not being into consumerist garbage (well – unless it’s ethical)

That’s me.

In the summer I’m going to ride my bicycle to Wreck Beach, and hike in the mountains, and love up on the planet, and feel really good about myself and my alternative life style choices. Really stick it to the man, my friends and I, with our acceptance and respect of people’s life choices and tolerance of difference.

This is  my life on the Vancouver side of the Cambie bridge.

The Conservative Agenda:

But, everyday I jump on the train and commute to my school in Richmond (with a very large Chinese community, and a very different point of view in general).

For Chinese New Year, one of the teachers organised for our students to get to meet Stephen Harper. He volunteers with the Conservative party in Richmond. The students loved it. Many of them would never and had never volunteered for anything. They got blue t-shirts. They did something outside in the community. They stopped looking at a screen for several minutes. They now know who the Prime Minister is, and the Conservative party.

I didn’t go.

I was invited. But I didn’t go.

I joked “blue isn’t my colour”.

I went to a clothing swap at a friends house (which was opened by a group meditation) and then out to go bowling with some international friends downtown.

In short, I did exactly what I do when I live in Vancouver. Hippy dippy, granola, international, hipster, ironic stuff.

Does that make me a better liberal thinker? That I looked at my instagram feed and thought “That’s my worst nightmare” Looking at all of my beaming students in Conservative t-shirts?

A tutoring student is discussing the car they want to purchase for their graduation. The budget is $50,000 (ish). I sat and listened and told him to give me $10,000 and I’d find him a decent car. That he should spend the rest on a trip or equivalent. How far could you go on $40,000? A long, long way for a long, long time.

My teacher friend:  Well, that’s really putting your values onto someone else, isn’t it?

Am I a better liberal thinker, or a better person in general, for assuming that money should be prioritised for airplane tickets and adventures? Bearing in mind the ecological damage I would do with the number of flights I would take, would surpass whatever that car would do over its lifetime.

Would the money I spend abroad help more people than it would buying a luxury car?

(We aren’t talking about someone suggesting charity instead of a nice car. We are talking about someone suggesting travel over a nice car.)

Because the life lesson I’ve learned/been taught/that’s been reinforced through most of my relationships with anyone I relate to – is that travel is the best things for everyone, always.

What I’m starting to think now is – there is, and there should be, room.

We aren’t talking to each other.

Climate change, social change, government change.

Whatever your political bent – we aren’t talking or listening to people outside of our bubbles.

And we aren’t going to get anywhere if we keep it up.

And I don’t know who I am.

And that might be ok.