small gestures and flipping the bird

A couple of days ago, I wrote about my 5 hour trip from our home in Clinton to my family home in Kingston.  My husband and I generally spend the time listening and talking about the items on the CBC.   I won’t detail the whole programming today, but I will mention DNTO.  The acronym stands for Definitely Not The Opera.  The affable host, Sook-Yin Lee did a whole show today on small gestures.  The examples couldn’t have been more disparate.  From the first segment on flipping the bird 

to using non-verbal forms of communication such as winking and nodding….reminding me of Monty Python’s famous line in the skit “The Two Englishmen”, A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind bat, ay? ay?


As humorous as these examples were, the more thought-provoking one came from Steven Fletcher, an MP for Canada.  Mr. Fletcher has an illustrious career so far in parliament, but to me, his character is what sets him apart.  He became a quadriplegic after a car accident and with that also became the first permanently disabled person to sit in The House of Parliament.

When Sook-yin Lee spoke to Mr. Fletcher about her theme for the show, small gestures, he spoke of his eye contact with people, winking and nodding.  He told of a story that he wanted to stand like all the other parliamentarians when raising a question to the speaker of the house; and so bought a specialized wheel chair that would allow him to stand.  He then went on to say that there was a mal-function of the chair just at the very moment he was standing for the first time in parliament.  He said he was crushed; that that was going to be his big moment.  Instead, he was reminded of the bigger lesson: you don’t need the grand gestures to be heard or to make your point.  From that moment on , Mr. Fletcher winks if he wishes to speak.

The other poignant comment he made was that he wished that he had hugged his parents more.  That before the accident, he was not conscious of the effects of touch.  That is a tough way to learn a lesson, but one that we can all take to heart.


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