[image from google]
Yesterday I watched the televised state funeral for Canada's beloved Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party, who recently succumbed to cancer. I rarely watch this sort of event, but Jack touched the hearts of all of us, no matter our politics. He modeled a highly civil, positive and "for the people" attitude that we responded to, so tired are we of all the vitriolic posturing and agenda-driven politics which have become the norm.
Two days before he died, Jack took the time to write a letter to all Canadians, ending with these words, which sum up the way Jack lived his life, and also the way he died:
"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."
One of the eulogies spoken in his honor included the following quote from one of my favorite authors and activists, Arundhati Roy, who wrote the novel, The God of Small Things, as well as the remarkable The Algebra of Infinite Justice, a collection of essays penned in the days following 9/11. The series of essays related historical context we in North America had been heretofore blissfully (and, at times, willfully) unaware of, and which Ms. Roy considered led to the events of that terrible day. She warned the proposed "War on Terror" was ill-considered, an outlook with which I whole-heartedly agreed.
Ms. Roy addressed those attending the World Social Forum of 2003 with these encouraging words, which were aptly repeated at Jack's send-off:
on her way.
On a quiet day,
I can hear her
The outpouring of emotion at Jack's loss shows us just how much we long for that better, more civil, more equitable and just world. How we long for politics for the people not the pocketbook. How we long for rational, reasonable dialogue, not oppositional posturing, which gets nothing done. As speaker after speaker told us yesterday, the thousands there in person, the throng outside on the street, and all of us at home in our living rooms:
"We can do it. Jack showed us how!"