By-Election Resumes!

The Ward 7 by-election is now officially re-scheduled to October 5th, 2020, with advanced voting days of September 26th, and October 2nd and 3rd, at City Hall.

It has been over five months since this by-election was postponed. Much has changed since then.

On March 17th, 2020, the Cambridge City Clerk made the correct decision to delay the by-election due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, grocery store shelves were emptying and fear was palpable amongst us. This was not a time to gather in large groups, as we now know and recognize; this was a time for calmness, deliberation, and ‘distance’. This strategy, as we know from looking around the world, has saved lives.

Since March 17th, both locally and globally, COVID-19 has affected the world like nothing we have known in our lifetimes. Even ‘World Wars’ I and II failed to reach or alter the lives of some corners and nation-states of the Earth. Yet, COVID-19 has reached even these hidden corners now. It has changed things, not just in Cambridge and Canada, but everywhere: creating not an identifiable enemy from without, but problematizing ourselves and our core as living human beings: who we are, what we do, where he go, and who we converse with, laugh with, and hug. It’s made distance — what used to be just ’empty space’ or something we didn’t think about — into a tangible quality and reality we must feel, calculate, and dance around like a brick wall, every day. COVID-19 has changed things.

This is not an easy time for anyone. Just as we are distanced from friends and loved ones, economic precarity and crisis is rising locally, nationally, internationally. Perhaps most disconcertingly, though — there is a communal and individual sense of unease and uncertainty that the world and the future we assumed would always continue onwards for our children, is no longer there, from school bus rides, to playgrounds, to concerts and organized sports. In place of the world and future we knew, is uncertainty. Distance. Hence, the anxiety we see and feel. And for some countries, peoples, and elections, it is negativity and fear that’s used to fill that gap of uncertainty. This is dangerous.

This is my concern: that the gap of uncertainty and insecurity that has opened up for us all, everywhere, will be exploited by a politics of fear, emotionality, and false-security promising easy answers by exploiting and attacking the weak and vulnerable (the easy targets). This, despite the lessons of COVID-19 highlighting that we are all bound together by ties of humanity, community, love, caring, and empathy. Now is when we need a politics of care and understanding to bridge distances and plug gaps, rather than use fear, misinformation, or character-assaults to tear down others, pretending nothing has changed and it’s ‘politics as usual’, so unleash the hounds.

Much has changed for my family and I over the past 5 months since the by-election was delayed. We have loved ones becoming ill. A rambunctious and growing toddler. And a new baby expected in December, 2020. Combined with COVID, it has reaffirmed to me that there is nothing more important than my family, and ensuring their well-being in a healthy community, watching my son grow and teaching him, alongside my partner and best friend, that there is a still beautiful world to discover if we are sympathetic and understanding with one another. The key is listening to others, thinking critically, and acting rationally to make that world a better place based on what we’ve learned together.

There is no such thing as ‘normal’ and there never has been. History is an endless change of social and political norms, customs, patterns, traditions, family and gender relations, economic systems, etc. The only constant of history amidst these winds of endless change is that, at each isolated historical moment, citizens think it is their unique time, moment, or existence, that is the universal, immutable, ‘true normal’ — only before things change again in unpredictable ways. The point is: there is no ‘normal’ other than the way we choose to treat each other and live our lives each day. We always have the power to change this. Every day. And if our values and lives face change, we can question what we do, and why, rather than simply succumb to what we think is universal or immutable, without question. There is no ‘normal’ and there never has been. It’s our task to build the world we want to see today.

So, from wearing masks to distancing ourselves from loved ones, these small acts of individual duty in this crisis add up to a stronger, safer, more unified Cambridge, region, province, and nation. This is a politics of understanding and sympathy that we can build from and face the future together.

I wish everyone the best, and I congratulate Cody, Sandra, R.J., Cole, Connie, Manuel, Vandan, and Simon, for wanting to serve and help their city.

Much has changed since March 17th, but what remains the same: we’re all in this together. I wish everyone peace, resilience, and happiness as they find new sources of strength and meaning in this strange time. Despite the new ‘physical’ distance, know that you are loved and that there is always a place for you in this community.

And get out and vote!!