Usually I steer clear of talking about politics. It's partly that I don't feel I know enough about the nuances of political and economic intrigue to make an intelligent contribution to the conversation. But it's mostly because I can't stand the negativity that gets spewed when people start airing their views.
In the last provincial election I had no idea who to vote for. I tried to pay attention to the debates and articles and news stories. However, what I got out of that was an understanding of why I SHOULDN'T vote for a candidate. Each one, and they were all the same, spent thousands of hours and dollars telling us how bad the other candidate was, and not what they stood for, what they wanted to do, and how they were going to make my province better.
So, for our federal election, I played like an ostrich. I stuck my head in the sand and tried to ignore the political chatter. When campaigners called I told them I hadn't made up my mind. It was true. I hadn't. Nor did I want to. There was too much at stake.
The worst part was that I couldn't discuss my thoughts or ask questions publicly. Because if I did, the floodgates would open. Everyone has an opinion about politics, and when they air them, it all heats up. The proverbial claws come out and we forget everything we learned in kindergarten.
Yes, it's ok to disagree and to try to woo another over to your position, especially when you're expressing opinions respectfully. But when personal character and slurs and nastiness join the party, well, that's when it's time to hit the mute button
I just cannot stand negative campaigning. It's so distasteful. I can't vote based on how bad the other guy is. When I watched Justin Trudeau gracefully defend his father's legacy while Tom Mulcair took his chastisement guilty-faced like a 5 year old being scolded after colouring on the wall, I realized it really doesn't have to be that way.
Except it is. Election night was a nightmare. The lack of consideration for people's perspectives and opinions caused mass unfriendings. Weird, we're all adults. Why can't we keep it clean? I went AWOL on social media, got the baseball score from SIRI and caught up on 'Empire'. At least the characters on that show spare no illusions about their behaviour and don't profess to be anything that they're not.
I won't say who I voted for and it's none of your business. What's important is how we behave now that the show is over and how we will conduct ourselves the next time. Can we learn anything from this election and can we teach our children how to do it right?
It all drilled down for me today when I saw the photograph above of Maggie and Justin Trudeau. The love and pride in her eyes when she looks at the man she raised to be great made me think. I've heard said that she married a prime minister and gave birth to one too. It's true.
This photo reminds me that Justin Trudeau is someone's child. That's his mother. Look at the joy in her face as she watches him in his moment of triumph. I see in her face how I feel about my kids and the great things I dream for them. It makes me tear up because I live for the moments when I can look at them and feel the same explosions of pride in their accomplishments.
The picture caught me unawares. It's easy to forget that people in the public eye are just that: people. We talk about them like they're objects and merge their professional and personal selves into one while we give ourselves license to say whatever we want about them without ever knowing who they are. I started to think about whether that's the legacy I want to leave for my kids.
I wrote the following passage on my Facebook wall:
When I look at this picture, the colours fade away. Red, blue, orange, green-they don't matter. What matters is a mother's pride in her child, and I think that's something we can all identify with.
We all wish that our children will achieve their dreams. We hope that they will do their best and work hard and reach for the stars. We raise them to be good people with strong values and a commitment to their beliefs. That they will be courteous and honourable. And we imagine that others will treat them the same way.
Whatever it is that they want to do, we trust that they will set their minds on a goal and do whatever it takes and what they need to do to get there.
Growing up in Canada, all I heard was what a flake Maggie Trudeau was. That she was a hippie and a nut and a bad mother. But you know what? I'll bet she was just doing her best and loving her sons and getting through the day -- just like the rest of us. Thankfully she raised her kids in the days before the Internet.
I ask you to think about that before you point fingers and smear and hate and insult. Remember that this man, our new prime minister, is a person. It's not just politics. He's someone's son, her baby, her love. Remember how you hope your kids would act if their candidate wasn't elected or things didn't go their way.
What kind of behaviours are we modeling when we toss out vitriol about this human who has chosen to do this job, with commitment, as his parents raised him to. Just like you do, and your friend and neighbour and colleague.
We are all people, we're someone's son or daughter. Someone is proud of us. Can we bring humanity back to politics and together create a better Canada?
Originally published on BeNiceorLeaveThanks.com.