I don’t remember a season of such unrest as this one. Debt Ceiling Crisis in the States. Riots in the UK. Greece on.the.brink. The stock market plummeting and rising and plummeting. And that’s just in the western world.
If ever I’ve been grateful to be Canadian – land of “socialism” to some, where we riot about silliness like hockey outcomes (I’m not making light of it, just grateful it wasn’t about regimes), land of regulated banks and a good, strong dollar, land of one of the lowest debt-to-gdp ratios – if ever I’ve been grateful, I am now.
And I’m grateful too for our political tenor. Our talk is far from ideal, to be sure, and often very bitter, but so far on the whole we stop short of the vitriol I see in other countries. And we should. If my brief stint in the heart of politics up here taught me anything, it’s that politicians, even those whose approaches are angering, are trying their best to create a system that (in their opinion) will be good for the city, territory, province or Canada.
Which brings me to Jack Layton. I’m no NDP-er (I’m Green, and far too capitalist). But Jack Layton by all accounts was a thoroughly decent person. And we said that about him before he died! He was somewhat of a Canadian-style Obama. Talked sincerely about hope, but without excess charisma. Was passionate about social justice … yet comfortable with something as ordinary as “Orange Crush” (Orange Crush?!?) as a de facto campaign slogan. No celebrities made amazing mashups and sang songs for him, but his mustache sure made the rounds. All so Canadian.
And finally to send us all a simple letter, written to be published after his death, not filled with polished rhetoric, yet closing with these simple, straight-up words:
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
Damn. I’m content to be Canadian.
RIP Mr. Layton.
Photo Credit: Tiffany Trinidad