Tag Archives: democracy

And so…or waiting waiting waiting

We seem to be stuck in a holding pattern- stuck in a growing pandemic, stuck with the defeated US president clinging to power, even stuck in autumn- we’ve had warm weather here in Ontario and, though lovely, I can’t help but feel like winter is waiting on the edge, ready to spring.

It all reminds me of a time we were in the Everglades watching a nature scene take place before us. A frog was catching insects. A snake was watching the frog, ready to spring. An egret was watching the snake, preparing an attack, and behind the egret we could see the watchful eyes of an alligator, looking for dinner.

In one instant, the frog leapt for a big, the snake leapt for the frog, the egret pounced on the snake, and slurp, the food chain played out. Fortunately for the egret, the alligator was just that bit too slow, and missed taking his place at the top.

So here I am feeling a bit like that egret. Or is it the frog? Waiting for winter to leap and release the Covid virus again, all while knowing there’s a democratic confrontation awaiting in the wings to gobble the whole disaster up.

It’s unsettling.

Will the alligator be able to take the whole mass down? Or will we have a narrow escape as the egret did and fly away with a full tummy and the will to fight another day?

Or will everything leap forward and manage to continue unabated- winter, Covid, democracy-undoing…

In trying to remain optimistic, but I can feel the tension like the sound of a violin A string, scraping along the bow.

Fighting cynicism

I’m a bit of a Pollyanna. I like to see the good in the world, be cheery, believe that people are generally not evil as a first choice.

But it’s getting harder and harder to keep my upper lip stiff. It seems every time I turn on the radio or see the news, it’s more and more stories about man’s inhumanity to man. Small and large atrocities, seemingly most often committed by soft white men against, well, everyone else.

It’s enough to make me a raving frothing feminist. Not that we women are often any better when in charge. It’d just maybe make a change, like shifting political leadership – one party is much like the other – and often it’s worth changing them around just to sever the lines of corruption that form over time and gradual erosion of ideals through the everyday squashing of bureaucracy.

Maybe more women in charge would change the old patterns of white male supremacy, force a different world view. Hard to know. Maggie Thatcher didn’t seem to help things…

I have a friend who reminds me often that men are as abused as women, often more abused. True, but it’s still men who are doing the abusing, for the most part. So though men do suffer, in wars and prisons and even in marriages, the situation is still being caused by men.

Why do people in positions of power and government feel they can act without regard for those they control? Why does our current government feel that, in a democracy, they have the right to squash all debate or intelligent discussion?

And most importantly, why do we let them get away with it, these soft/hard white men? Why don’t we say no, loudly, and stop them?

Perhaps it’s the loss of hope, the soaking cynicism, that pollutes us, makes us feel too toxic to revolt. The people in power know this, and crush and belittle hope. They mock protests, refuse to answer questions, treat the rest of the world as ever so slightly mentally incompetent.

I probably wouldn’t mind so much if they did it with wit, as in Yes, Minister. Or with joy, like those dictators who surround their palaces with wild triple size photos of themselves. But they are dull, dull, dull, these grey people. Despite the power they attach to like overfull leeches.

And perhaps that is the most discouraging thing of all.

Ah, Jack, we hardly knew ye…

A leader is one who, out of madness or goodness, volunteers to take upon himself the woe of the people. There are few men so foolish, hence the erratic quality of leadership in the world.
John Updike

I am so sad to hear about the loss of Jack Layton, a man who DID take upon himself the woe of the people, who fought for those people, and who had a vision for Canada that included people who live with challenges of all sorts. Whether you agree with his politics or not (and, full disclosure here, I do!), you’ve got to admire Jack. He was a scrapper, but not a dirty fighter – he stayed true to his ideals, even when faced with opposition from without and even from within his party. He was honourable. As politicians go, he had heart, integrity, and courage.

We are going to miss him so.

I had the pleasure to meet Jack and Olivia when I was briefly intensely active with the NDP. He was charming, Olivia even more so, but you could not doubt his conviction. I like that in a person. He knew what he wanted to see, he worked tirelessly to get it. Along the way, he listened to people, took their advice, grew into a statesman, adapted.

Some people faulted him for that. I know those old-time socialists, who feel that even speaking to a non-member was sacrilege. I’ve met them. They are intransigent, as closed-minded as the right-wing that is in charge of the country at present. One of the things that impressed me most about Jack was that he was able to adapt, based on what people told him. He was able to clearly show a vision for the country, based on what he had learned.

We’ve had so few leaders of late. Pierre Trudeau, Ed Broadbent, maybe Frank McKenna. What we’ve been dealing with are managers. I was one of those once, and that’s not what is needed to lead a country. It involves endless miniature steps in the dark, with no idea of where you are going, justifying every inch forward with forms in triplicate while lying to those above you and below you in the chain to make yourself and your team look good. It almost killed me. It is killing Canada.

I had hope, soaring hope, when Jack was elected Leader of the Opposition. I thought, finally, someone with the ability to see the big picture, to push for it, with the strength to make it happen. Unfortunately, the battle to get there seemed to exhaust his strength, encourage the cancer to sneak in hidden pathways. I’m so glad he was able to see his triumph, but so destroyed we won’t have a chance to see him grow into it. And I am in fear of the tyranny of the Harper Conservatives, their false ways, their hatred for knowledge and science and progress and people, their love for money.

I know there are other leaders in the wings in the NDP. I’m hoping they have the courage to step forward to try to fill Jack’s place, though it will be difficult. We need a strong opposition now, more than ever.

It’s not enough to just be sad, to wish for things to be different.

The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.
Ralph Nader

I take up Jack’s challenge, in honour of his sacrifice. It’s time to get back into the political ring, to fight for what we need for the least of us. Or even the middle of us. Or at least to CARE about where we in Canada go, with this great country of ours. What about you?

We’re sure gonna miss you, Jack.