We are fortunate to participate in a democracy. In fact, it is a privilege to inherit the reigns to a political system built upon freedoms won by the toil, sacrifice and loss of our ancestors and predecessors. We owe those who sacrificed their lives, the men and women who left their homes during two World Wars to fight and die in filthy trenches, in fact we owe all those who gave up a portion of their peace of mind by witnessing ordinary humans committing extraordinary horrors against one another in the name of competing ideas. Those people sacrificed lives, limbs and minds to safeguard our freedom.
Political participation is also something we owe to those who have organised civil rights movements – passionate Canadians who fought to close the residential schools that were destroying the families and cultures of our First Nations brothers and sisters; quiet heroes who fought a quiet revolution to secure the emancipation French Canadians from a parochial system of prejudice and oppression that kept them from achieving their potential; everyday heroes who sit quietly in their homes, go to work and perform the duties that keep our economy running to make our society more prosperous; and of course we owe those quiet martyrs who feel low now, whose hearts have been broken because of alienation, exclusion, rejection or pain. All of these people make up our democracy – not one is better than another, not one is worth more. All are humans, citizens and equal before the law.
To participate politically is to do honour to our brothers and sisters – a family that stretches across Canada, and extends through family connection to almost every country of the world. These connections are visceral. They are human. They are real – made up of the hopes and dreams, fears and anxieties, toils and travails lived by the people around us, the people who have preceded us, and the people who will follow us.
Politics are the expression of these relationships. Politics are a condensed encyclopedia of all the parts of being human. Potential, power, love, success, failure and, of course, second chances. When you opt into politics, at whatever level you choose to, you become a part of our country’s song. Your life, your story, becomes a melody coursing through the music of our collective history and our future.
When done in good faith and with good will, politics becomes the expression of what we can be, a debate between various glorious futures that are put to the test of public controversy. When done with wisdom and with a loving consideration of the experience and value of those around us, our politics can lead us to places we could never have imagined as individuals.
That is why I love political participation. Because I believe in a brighter future. Because I have seen what can be achieved when we trust one another and strive – side by side, hand in hand – for a more perfect society.