I was at Canada's Wonderland yesterday with my awesome little family, including Uncle Timbo and his delightful new companions. I spent a lot of time on the sidelines, on account of my 12lb coaster-blocker...to say nothing of my recently acquired terror of things fast and high.
But I digress.
There is a lot of scary and sad and infuriating on the news these days. And all of this scary and sad and infuriating needs to be out there and talked about in the hopes that we can fix it, or at least move in the right direction. But it all gets to be too much for many of us, and I believe there is also tremendous value in highlighting the happy and good and heartwarming.
So here is what I know.
I know that the far and away vast majority of people I have encountered in my 40 years are good. And not just people I have met. Most of the sea of people I wade through on a daily basis are *just like me*. They have lives and people that are important to them, and they are just going about their business, doing their best for themselves and the people they love. Do we all have habits and opinions and qualities that don't necessary contribute to the greater good? Of course. Can we tend to focus on those sometimes, forgetting to give each other the benefit of the doubt? Absolutely. But I spent 8 hours yesterday (more if you count Toronto traffic) surrounded by thousands of people of all shapes and sizes and colours, with time on my hands to observe and experience them, and here is what I came away with:
There was not a single ethnicity/race/background that stood out as a majority presence. It made me distinctly proud as a Canadian to look around and see what seemed like every race, religion and sexuality represented.
I saw so many variations on a turban that it made me realize how little I know about them. Is there a hierarchy of turban styles, so that more senior members of a community wear different styles? Is it simply a fashion choice?
I saw so many children with brightly coloured hair that it made me wonder if I've been missing out on a new line of hair colour geared toward children that is safer for hair?
I saw a group of East Indian friends trying to win one of those un-winnable carnival games, then passing on their tips to a gay couple that decided to try their luck.
I saw several groups of women and girls wearing full face-covering burqas who, apart from their clothing, looked and sounded just like a group of filipina girls, giggling and smiling and being silly with each other.
I saw a couple of mentally challenged men wearing yarmulkes going through the exit to a ride. I was about to let them know they were going the wrong way, when I saw that they had special passes to go to the front of the line. I saw them several times during the course of the day, and they were always treated so respectfully by the ride operators.
I saw another woman in a burqa with her face uncovered, pushing her daughter in a stroller past me as I breastfed my daughter. I wondered for a moment what she thought of me, partially exposed in such a public place, and I started to feel self-conscious. Then she smiled at me and I saw warmth and acceptance in her eyes.
In fact, I breastfed all over that park, and didn't feel a single ounce of disapproval or judgement. I felt like no one even really noticed, which is EXACTLY how it should be.
I heard Excuse Me and Sorry (obviously) and Thank You. In a crowded amusement park on a hot sunny day, I saw no pushing and shoving, no irritation at long lines translating into rudeness or disrespect.
We had a great time yesterday, and there were lots of high points. But one of the best parts was feeling so damn proud to live in this country, watching a cross-section of it behave beautifully with each other, as if it was no big deal.