Inauguration helped me focus on the long view

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Welcome to At The End Of the Day, I’m Hannah Sung and I write this newsletter to process the firehose of daily news.

This week, the scene in this bubble included juggling, and I don’t just mean metaphorically. Welcome to my 9-year-old son’s virtual gym class. 

This gym class was another strange moment in COVID life but our amazing teacher made it a beautiful one.

We had another “teachable moment” when I made Wednesday’s live coverage of the inauguration our home school lesson for the day.

The view from here.

Behind the scenes, engagement was patchy.

A post shared by Amanda Gorman (@amandascgorman)

I made the children come out of the blanket for showstopper National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman


The inauguration ceremony on January 20 was all pomp and circumstance and frankly, it’s what I needed. I needed some pageantry, some puffed-up speeches on democracy and I needed to take at least one news day to exhale and feel a sense of relief.

“Where’s Trump?” The kids asked.

“HE’S GONE!” I answered, which made my 6-year-old clap. “Yay!”

We did a lot of clapping that day.

My kids were only two and five years old when Donald Trump became the president of the United States and if I wanted them to be optimistic about the world they were growing into, there wasn’t much I could share about Trump.

A couple of years ago, one night during quiet time talk, I felt they needed to cultivate gratitude for their safety and security and know these things aren’t a given for everyone. I shared that I was sad from reading stories about ICE and migrant children locked in cages. [1]

I told them about children still in diapers who were separated from their parents, perhaps forever. This news story involved children the same age as them. Was it an age-appropriate conversation? Not sure. I did regret that I made at least one of them weep.

Given Biden’s first-day actions of canceling the Keystone XL pipeline and re-committing to the Paris Climate Agreement, I hope that when we talk about the news in this house, it will be wildly different moving forward. [2]

I also hope Biden’s climate actions will influence our House of Commons, too, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has broken so many of his original platform promises (nation-to-nation reconciliation, electoral reform, and yes, the environment -- his government bought a pipeline). [3]

Maybe an American leader more aligned with him, and less of a foil, will actually hold our Canadian government to higher standards instead of letting them get a constant pass because they’re not “as bad.”

Maybe, even in this ongoing pandemic, we can start talking about the long view again.

The climate crisis, whether or not it’s in the headlines, is something my children need to understand without being so freaked out they’re paralyzed with anxiety. *I* need to be able to think about it without paralysis and anxiety. Here are a few things in my life that help me to do that.

On social media: I follow the #wetsuwetenstrong hashtag on Instagram for news, views and examples of strength and solidarity. I added the hashtag to my feed one year ago when protests shut down Canada’s railways and there was a growing conversation in mainstream media about Indigenous leadership, band council versus traditional governance, and opinion pieces on the stifling, colonial legislation of the Indian Act. [4]

In my inbox: I look for connection in my friend Sarah’s gorgeous, funny newsletter on how to be a human being in a climate crisis, Minimum Viable Planet (I’ve talked about it here before — it’s such inspiration on how to think about a big-picture problem in a daily, everyday actions kind of way).

A post shared by Sarah Lazarovic (@sarahlazarovic)

On my bookshelf: I’m trying to read more, and not just on my phone. (I’ll always prefer paper over swiping pages on a screen.)

My latest book, which I’ve just cracked, is Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. In the absence of in-person book clubs, I’m excited to get through it and then talk to the one other adult in the house, my husband, who just finished it recently. He’s studying ecology and Indigenous teachings (he’s an art masters student) so he is definitely invited to my tiny book club.

On the sofa, my favourite place


On my headphones: I haven’t been listening to heavy podcasts lately (I’m into long, loose chats right now like “Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend” and “Call Your Girlfriend,” rather than investigative series) but I’m thinking about how much I learned by listening to the first season of “Drilled”. [5]

This podcast, from independent journalist Amy Westervelt, talks about the nuts and bolts of how climate crisis denial was fabricated. Watching Biden’s inauguration is motivating me to catch up on recent seasons of it.

A post shared by badgalriri (@badgalriri)

For anyone who is feeling like Rihanna this week, I know I want this feeling to last longer than a 24-hour news cycle. Yet, we all know that our issues remain and no one person or president is a magic fix.

The daily grind of news is still very difficult right now.

And to give myself a breather, I’m not trying to avoid news so much as pull focus to look at issues with a longer lens, pulling away from breaking news to think about what future we’re building, on a larger scale, but also in our own home. 

I’m also trying to cook up something fun for you next week. I’m very excited about it! Stay tuned to the newsletter or catch me on Instagram @at_the_eod for updates.

Tonight, my family will celebrate two things that kept my kids going this week: a glorious, curb-side candy store run and a Harry Potter night. I hope you have some nice Friday night plans of your own, too.

If you like what you’re reading, please let me know by hitting the heart below, forwarding to a friend or dropping me a note by hitting reply on this letter. I love hearing from you.

Hannah

✨✨✨ At The End Of the Day is edited by effervescent, phone-a-friend lifesaver Ishani Nath ✨✨✨

FURTHER READING:

[1] Written Testimony: "Kids in Cages: Inhumane Treatment at the Border,” Human Rights Watch, 2019

[2] Biden Cancels Keystone XL Pipeline and Rejoins Paris Climate Agreement, New York Times

[3] By buying Trans Mountain, the Trudeau government breaks an array of promises, Maclean’s

[4] Who speaks for the Wet’suwet’en people? Making sense of the Coastal GasLink conflict, The Globe and Mail

[5] Drilled, a podcast about fossil fuel propaganda

“Getting those arguments off the streets, and into the electoral assemblies, will be one of the greatest challenges of the coming years.” This line has stayed with me since the day I read this. Are we on the cusp of another Roaring Twenties? The Globe and Mail

Payette stepping down as governor general after blistering report on Rideau Hall work environment, CBC. Not sure how much we care about a largely ceremonial role meant to maintain links in an imperialist Commonwealth, but I do care about toxic work environments. I’ve worked in a few. I hope this news story can give strength to those working to make things better.

For the Ontarians in the house, an example of why I stay on Twitter. On Doug Ford and who he means when he says, “my friends.”


Credit: Unsplash, Louis Maniquet