Senior

A few days ago, I wrote a post called “The Truth”, about Jody Wilson-Raybould and Justin Trudeau. Yesterday Justin booted Jody out of the Liberal Party of Canada.

On the CBC website last night, there were nearly 10,000 comments on this story, vehement opinions split fairly evenly. The challenge is to state what’s true for me without falling into antagonism. What values are most precious here?

It’s clear to me that government officials put pressure on Jody as Attorney General to intervene in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, a corporation that’s accused of bribery and corruption. Before last Friday, however, it was fuzzy – in the realm of “He said, she said.” On that day, Jody recorded a phone conversation between her and a top civil servant. It demonstrated pressure being put on her.

Is it unethical to record someone without them knowing it? Yes. Is it unethical for government officials to interfere with the impartiality and independence of a court of law? Yes. So here we have two competing values. I assert that one of these values is “senior” to the other – more important to uphold. In a perfect world, we should uphold them both but our reality is far from black-and-white.

If Jody had not recorded the conversation, there would have been no clear evidence of meddling in a judicial decision. Just innuendo. I vote for establishing clarity.

I honour Jody Wilson-Raybould. Is she a perfect politician and person? No. Did she speak the truth, knowing what the possible consequences could be? Yes.

We all need to speak the truth, without antagonism and without fudging. In today’s sports section, a soccer player, talking about a different issue, said it for me:

My reason for participating is because
I believe silence allows unacceptable behaviour to continue

The Truth

A week ago, a woman asked me “How are you?” I said “I’m happy.” It was a lie.

As my life continues to unfold, I see how damaging it is to not tell the truth. It hurts. And the pain lingers. It’s looking in the mirror and seeing far less than what’s possible.

For the last few weeks, Canadians have been following the saga of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Justin Trudeau. Jody was the former Attorney General of Canada before being demoted by Justin, our Prime Minister. It certainly appears that he and some of his colleagues put pressure on her to intervene in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, a Canadian corporation which is suspected of bribery and corruption. If the company is convicted, many jobs would be lost.

The rule of law states that Jody, the top judicial figure in the land, and another woman who is the prosecutor in the case, need to make their decisions impartially and independently. No political interference. Jody chose to speak the truth, despite probable negative repercussions concerning her career. In my view, she stood tall, and was not swayed by the winds of popularity polls and the coming election. Here’s a sample of what she said:

We are treading on dangerous ground here – and I am going to issue my stern warning – because I cannot act in a manner and the prosecution cannot act in a manner that is not objective, that isn’t independent. This is the about the integrity of the government … This is going to look like political interference by the Prime Minister.

This is not about saving jobs. This is about interfering with one of our fundamental institutions. This is like breaching a constitutional principle of prosecutorial independence.

I can’t act in a partisan way and it can’t be politically motivated. All of this screams of that.

Do we stand for the truth or are we searching for “wiggle room”, cutting corners, putting the truth on a lower level than other values?

Jody is an aboriginal woman, a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw nation on Vancouver Island. On Saturday, she was honoured by five hundred people at a feast (a potlatch).

In previous testimony to the Justice Committee, she said:

I come from a long line of matriarchs and I am a truth teller in accordance with the laws and traditions of our Big House [a place for ceremonies and decision-making]. This is who I am and this is who I will always be.

“Judith Sayers, the president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council who recently wrote an editorial about the subject, spoke with On The Island‘s Gregor Craigie about the significance of the words:”

What she’s talking about here is that area of law as the kind of person that you have to be: one with integrity, honesty and truth telling.

A lot of indigenous laws are related to our spiritual, sacred way of life.

Part of it is to do with us as people, how we treat the land and resources and our role in our communities and governance.

I believe that her role in the Big House has been to be a truth teller, which is very strong in that she has to – and she’s told – that she could never speak unless she knows it to be true.

Amen

Integrity

I’m in a worldwide group called The Evolutionary Collective.  Mostly we meet online to explore consciousness together.  For the next three-and-a-half months, I’m taking an EC program called Base Camp.  Our current theme is integrity.

On one level, the word is pretty simple – being “whole and complete” – being appropriate to life, having nothing hidden, telling the truth.  Another way to look at integrity is keeping your word, and if you break it, go to the person involved and clean up your mess.  Even though you didn’t do what you said you’d do, you can still be in integrity.

I can be out-of-integrity if I know what to do and don’t do it.  And when I fall short, it’s not about beating myself up about it – just recognize the problem and fix it.  Before Monday night’s online session, I thought I was “squeaky clean” but alas that was not the case.

I’ve asked myself “Do I need to address every moment of not being in alignment with truth, even those itsy bitsy things?”  The answer coming back was “Yes.”  Doing so releases great power to do good in the world, unencumbered by regrets.

Moment Number One

Last June, I quit the Tour du Canada after three days.  It was the cross-country bicycle ride I was on.  I was exhausted and terrified of the semi-trailers bombing by a few metres away.  I came home to Belmont traumatized.  As school opened again in the fall, I was still deeply afraid to get back on my bicycle.  One Grade 6 girl has been very curious about me, and observant, since we met a year before.  She’s wanted to know if I was going to Toronto on the weekend, and noticed when I bought new shoes.

In September, “Molly” asked me if I’d gotten back on my bicycle.  I admitted that the answer was no.  I told her that ta-pocketa, my skinny-tired bike, was for sale and that I had bought another one – with stable knobby tires.  I said it wasn’t in yet.  Molly kept asking me if the hybrid bicycle had arrived in London.  Later, when I told her that my bike guy was setting Betty up for me, I got lots of “Is it ready yet?”  >  “No.”

I didn’t want to let Molly know that I was still plenty scared to ride again.  I hid … in lies.  “The bike isn’t in yet.”  After a bit, that wasn’t true.  “The bike isn’t ready yet.”  After more bits, that was another lie.  What was true was that I was praying for the first snow, so Molly would stop bugging me about riding.

I look back now and see the psychic energy I’ve wasted.  Every time I saw Molly, Betty was right before my eyes.  After Monday night’s integrity session online, I saw the prison bars.  As far as I know, lying to Molly was my only diminishment of integrity, but it was huge.  “Clean up your mess, Bruce.”

So I did.

I went to Molly this week and told her I had lied about my new bicycle.  I told her that I was still terrified and gave her permission to challenge me again when the roads are dry and the temperature warmer.  I apologized … “I’m sorry, Molly, for lying to you.”  She didn’t know what to say but her nod was all I needed.

Just like that, I’m free.

Until this morning.

Moment Number Two

I went to breakfast at the Belmont Diner and noticed the fellow who was replacing the floor mats with new ones, taking the old ones away for cleaning.  I was backing Scarlet up in the parking lot and didn’t see how close the gentleman’s truck was.  My back bumper hit its front one – not a real smash but at least a nudge.  What did I do, given my newfound integrity?  I drove home.  (Sigh)

As I pulled onto Robin Ridge Drive, my home road, I started feeling sick, and faint.  “C’mon, Bruce.  A little bump and you’re falling apart?”  Well, actually … yes.  What has become of me when one “little” misstep is unacceptable?  It’s not unacceptable that I hit the truck, but taking off was.  I came to the roundabout on Robin Ridge and went all the way around, back from where I came.

On Main Street, I was praying that the floor mat company’s truck was still there.  It was.  I heard some noise inside.  I knocked on the door.  An assistant came out to say hi.  And then here was the boss, walking across the parking lot, heavy laden.  He too smiled as I told my story.  We checked his bumper.  Nothing was detectable.  “No problem, man.”  >  “Thanks.”

I drove home with my own smile.  I was whole and complete again.  This integrity feels like the floor on which I can dance.  So cue the music, maestro!

Standing O … No Standing O

It had been 50 years since I’d heard the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.  I played cello from Grade 6 till Grade 13.  Sadly, I told myself I wasn’t good enough to continue playing in university … and I believed me.

As a teenager, I loved going to the ancient Massey Hall to hear the TSO, and once, as a member of the University of Toronto Chorus, I got to sing with them in that classic concert hall.  Lucky me!

And now … it’s now.  Decades later, and the TSO resides elsewhere – in the Roy Thomson Hall.  And they’ve been there for 36 years!  Time marches on.

I went to hear my old friends last night, although none of the 1969 orchestra members were still playing.  The feature work was The Planets by Gustav Holst.  I sat in a concert hall that was brand new to me, set in a  circular arrangement with very steep seating.  I liked it but I wasn’t gasping.

And then the music.  The first piece was a funeral dedication from the composer to his mentor.  Such sadness in the melodies, but strangely I wasn’t moved.

Then a piece featuring a virtuoso trumpet player.  What tone!  What sublime moments!  Yes, I was moved.

After intermission, Mr. Trumpet walks to the front of the stage and says “Tonight is special.  One of our musicians is retiring.  You were very generous to me with your applause after I played for 25 minutes.  Gord has been playing for you for 41 years!”  And we stood as one to honour this man. He cried.

Finally, The Planets.  It celebrated the members of our solar system.  Parts I enjoyed, parts not.  Not once, however, was I transported to sweet worlds.

At the end of it all, many folks stood and applauded.  I sat and applauded.  Not touched, not standing.  Is there something wrong with me?  No.  Is there something wrong with the music?  No.  I stand immediately when heavens enter me.  Not this time.  And “considered” standing O’s, when you look around to see what other folks are doing? No thanks.

I learned more about me last night.  I’m glad.