Four days out from the American election, I was speaking to my grandmother on the phone. She grew up in England in the years leading up to World War II. Her father passed away when she was ten years old from damage to his lungs he’d sustained in a gas attack during World War I. It is difficult for me to wrap my mind around how little time passed between one devastating world war and the next. Young people today might be forgiven for not recognizing the signs my grandmother pointed out in our phone call, indications that we are marching towards another devastating period in history.
As a child, I imagined my future through the depressive mindset many autistic children experience. If I could conceive of living to be the age I am today, I always imagined a pandemic and a war would be part of my life experiences. Perhaps this is why I’ve felt we were heading towards both for years. Having lived long enough to see one of these visions come true, I can’t help fearing the other is around the next corner. Hearing my grandmother talking about how much the state of the word reminds her of how things were before World War II was a confirmation of my fears.
Hunkered down in my home in northern Saskatchewan, it might be easy for me to think events in the rest of the world will not affect me. I’m not that naive. I face the coming of the 2020 American election with dread, brightened only by the idea that my fears could turn out to be hyperbolic. What are we marching towards? Another world war? A second American civil war? The small optimist buried somewhere deep inside me wonders if this might be something we are less used to seeing: The turmoil that comes before genuinely transformational change.
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