In the aftermath of Ontario’s provincial election

It almost feels like the morning after a binge. Headache. Disbelief. A feeling you’re going to lose your cookies if you’re not very careful. Vague sense of paranoia, and just wishing everyone would duct-tape their mouths. You’re tired of hearing about it. Tired of looking up with the conviction the sky is going to fall.

But you know what? You’re not going to lose your cookies. People shouldn’t employ duct-tape on body parts. And we will continue to talk, and work, and go about our lives. Why? Because that’s what we do. We get on with things. That’s how we survive. Sure, for many of us this Ontario election result isn’t exactly peachy. Actually, for all of us, but those who voted for the Fordnation have no idea of what’s coming.

The rest of us? I think we need to pay attention to what the late Jack Layton said, and which is being much-quoted this morning-after:

Consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done. 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.

Now that’s a very ’60s statement to make. I identify with that, having been born at the back end of that remarkable awakening which swept so much of the Western World. We believed we could build a better world, that we might actually create global peace and harmony. We believed we’d become race-blind, gender-blind. We lobbied for women’s rights. We advocated for the right for people do with their lives and bodies what they wished. And that advocacy paved the way for later social measures which resulted in better conditions for workers, for families with children, for children themselves, as well as so many other awakenings. I cut my teeth of social conscience on books like Black Like Me, on the writings of political figures throughout history, on analysis of political and social revolutions.

As an adult those teaching and lessons infused my personal paradigm.

And so when the provincial election results came in last night, I was angry. Full out angry. And then came disbelief, because it was astonishing to me people could believe unsubstantiated promises, and a rhetoric of hate and exclusion. What had we worked so hard for all these decades? Had we learned nothing from the past?

But of course the answer is in the swings of political climate which always occur. You only need to look to history to see that. So, for now, the world of Ontario is in a darker place, a less friendly, less communal frame of mind. But that will shift. It always does. And it will shift in part because at our most primitive core I believe we weary of conflict. There is prosperity in peace, in social consciousness that ensures a community of inclusivity and equality. And we will advocate for that in one manner or another, lighting the beacons of Jack Layton’s gentle admonition to us: Let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.

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