En Bateau / in a boat

I was playing a delightful piano piece and for no apparent reason was suddenly overcome, and started to cry.

Debussy’s “En bateau” is a lovely piece, about recreation. It’s the end of the summer for North Americans as we observe Labour Day, our last glorious days of fun in the sun. Many of us get into boats, a marvellous escape. I have an arrangement for piano 2 hands that I will be playing in church this Sunday. While it might be apt as a celebration of the end of summer, there’s an additional reason.

What struck me as I was playing was how innocent our enjoyment can be once we’ve found a refuge. If we are in a safe place, a country with lakes for pleasure rather than as routes for armies to invade, water to drink, rather than dried up holes.

We are so lucky in this country.

I love the innocent appearances of these two boys, for all appearances out in their own (virtual) boat. I can’t forget two other boys who were out in a boat but didn’t fare so well. We’ve seen the tragic pictures of one of the brothers, as well as the despondent father who no longer wants to come to this country, no longer wants Canada as the place to plan his future: because his future –his wife and his two boys—is no longer possible. They’re gone.
He decided he’s staying there.

We don’t have to give up having fun or recreation. We can still listen to Debussy’s beautiful meditation, or whatever else you think is fun. But we need to also open our doors. My family is loyal lifelong to the Liberals because they opened the doors of Canada to Hungarians fleeing the uprising. We were already here (having left Hungary in the 1940s), unlike so many who would follow. I am not proud of what I see happening in Hungary now but I don’t presume to judge.  I only know that I admire the way Germany & Austria are opening their doors, a welcome comparable to what Canada once offered, both to Hungarians and so many others, such as the boat people of Viet Nam. The Liberals don’t have a monopoly, as Conservative Governments have been welcoming too.

But not the current one. While they toss numbers around, the dynamic is different. Sponsors seeking to bring people here hit bureaucratic roadblocks. In the old days (of the Hungarian uprising and the boat people) as I understand it, the government actually took the lead. My mom told me that Paul Martin’s father went to Europe to help.  That’s not precisely how it works now. But once the election is over that can change. Instead of roadblocks, our government can take the lead.

In the meantime, enjoy the sun, enjoy the water.

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