I was listening to CBC's 'Cross Country Checkup' and heard one of the guests share how he tells young people that they could become politicians and change our nation. I've been thinking about it ever since.... I've come to the conclusion that rather than Nation 'Changers' what we really need are Nation 'Builders'. Here's why...
It seems to me that 'Nation Changing' is largely a self serving pursuit. Nation Changers seek to shape our nation to suit their vision, values and ideals. The wonder of democracy is that if your vision, values and ideals resonate with the majority, you are empowered to make the changes that you have put forth. The upside, if you are on the 50% plus one side is you have the opportunity to change the nation as you see fit. The downside is that 50% less one of the population are left on the outside looking in. The risk for the Nation Changer is that in most cases, the electorate is impatient and unwilling to pay the price necessary for change. Inevitably, a new Nation Changer emerges with fresh promises of a better nation and the electorate, tired of the last 'Changer', votes in the new one based on the newest promises.
I have grown weary of 'Nation Changers' making grandiose promises. I am fearful of their arrogance and suspicious of their motives. We are a diverse nation. We are a nation of immigrants that have formed a collective identity of tolerance, acceptance and cultural harmony. We have become who we are through a combination of leadership from Conservatives, Liberals, NDP'ers, the Bloq and more recently the Greens. For our almost 144 years as a nation, Canadians from every political stripe brought their best to the table and did what they could to make Canada a better place. God give us more of the same!
Perhaps our nation doesn't need to be changed as much as our nation needs willing servants who are committed to building a future based on our collective values and vision. One of my favourite BC MLA's was Corky Evans. Corky was the member for Creston. His speeches were a blend of warm folksy stories used to make subtle (and sometimes not so subtle....) political points. In one his most memorable (to me) speech, he said something like this. 'Mr. Speaker, we come here from different parts of the province with one thing in common. We all want to make BC a better place to live. We just have different ideas on how to get there.' I think he's right. I also think that it takes a variety of people from a diversity of social, ethnic, religious and political backgrounds working together to build a great nation.
I'm leery of any party that wants to 'change' our nation. No single political party as 'the' secret to building a great nation. It's like anything else, our blindspots exist within our strengths. Our strengths may even create our blindspots. I think that's particularly true in politics.
My hope is that rather than nation changers, nation builders arise among us with the commitment and courage necessary to help us remain the greatest nation on earth!