Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Languages on the Beach


Yesterday I fulfilled three of my daily goals by going to the beach to speak Polish and English to my language exchange partner. (The goals are spending time outdoors, exercising, and practising foreign languages.)  

It was a lovely sunny day, and my language partner told me about her weekend and her career thoughts. I told her about Monday's excursion and once having spoken to Cardinal Dziwisz in a Krak√≥w street. We also exchanged thoughts on generational differences when it came adherence to Catholicism. I am less clear on what we talked about in English, but I hope my language partner found it profitable. 

Eventually we walked over to where B.A. was sitting, exchanged greetings in English with him, and said our good-byes. I then walked all the way home with B.A. (who had walked all the way there) and felt rather too tired to start work. Nevertheless, to work I went. 

Work involved hours and hours of transcribing rapid American medical opinions about COVID-19, its treatment and its vaccines. As my interview subject had described various do-it-yourself prophylactic methods, I was quite terrified that if I misheard and therefore wrote the wrong words, readers might take the wrong thing and do themselves an injury. I also looked up the medical use of very, VERY dilute sodium hypochlorite, and it is actually a thing. (But for heaven's sake, I beg everyone not to swig bleach.

Presumably because once I protested the arson of Catholic churches in Canada on Twitter, someone tweeted me her opinion that Catholics must tell Pope Francis to apologise for Canada's residential school program. She was not happy when I tweeted back that Pope Benedict apologised for Catholic involvement in Canada's residential school program (which ended before I was born) in 2009. 

The young woman also did not enjoy my reflections on child mortality rates before WW2, Jane Eyre, and my inability to find my great-great-grandfather's gravestone, possibly because his widow couldn't afford one. Neither did she enjoy Tomson Highway's account (to which I tweeted a link) of the wonderful time he had in residential school. 

Unsurprisingly this led to the young woman calling me a racist and ascribing me "Catholic guilt" (that is, a new mark of Cain Catholics apparently bear). Rather more surprisingly, she said she had made a donation to the preservation of a residential school in my name. She said she hoped I'd enjoy it, so I will certainly swing by the next time I am in that part of Ontario and have a look. It was run by Anglicans.

I found her behaviour strange, but then I have been relatively lucky in avoiding online abuse---presumably because, in my blogging heyday, I hit the "Delete" button in the comments section without an iota of guilt.  I also find it sad because she clearly hates Catholics and may even think that this hatred is a way to flourish as a person.

In my experience, dwelling on historical injustices isn't psychologically helpful. To give one very minor example, I very much resented being reviled as a "mangiacake" by Italian-Canadian kids in my elementary school and I glommed onto a new friend's disdain for the Italian-Canadian subculture known in the 1980s as "Ginos and Ginas." Today this does not sound much different from calling someone a Guinea, but it seemed perfectly fair back in the 80s, when there were Ginos, Ginas, metalheads, mods, punks, goths, et al. Anyway, to sum up this very old story, I was rescued from this unpleasant habit of mind by taking Italian classes. [A more general example would be that of the young woman who decides from unfortunate early experiences that "men are scum" and then discovers Mr Right only after abandoning her radical feminist separatist commune.)

I'm not sure what I would suggest for my critic, though. Hearing both sides of the story--FN stories of love and success as well as FN stories of abuse and trauma--might be helpful.  

1 comment:

  1. Respect to residential schools, the little bit I read tells me that the evidence indicated that the children could be better off in the boarding schools and most Canadians agreed with that. But a higher principle of family integrity was not respected. It seems to me it takes a lot of faith to choose higher principles over compelling immediate evidence. I have made the wrong choice on this all the time.

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