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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Sunday 15 June 2014

Life, Death and the Black Dog

Someone out there has been wrestling with The Black Dog, a euphuism for depression made famous by Winston Churchill.  While it is definitely assumed Churchill suffered from mental illness - bipolar disorder frequently gets the nod.
Churchill spent many a day - months of them at a time, in fact - at the bottom of a deep dark well where neither light nor hope crept.  He was a man, alone.
This was his one, true, greatest strength.
Without improper support, which god knows would have made his journey easier, Churchill endured the darkness.  In the strength he was able to muster against this most personal battle he found the will to stand up for a nation in the darkest of times.
Lots of people who get into politics in some form or other could easily be diagnosed from the DSM5 - bipolar disorder, OCD, narcissism, a smattering of autism, a lot of the scattered excitedness of ADHD and delusions of grandeur.
The culture has a bad habit of judging anything and everything that could be construed as a weakness - Michael Bryant found out who his friends were in the aftermath of his life being derailed.  The same has happened to countless other political folk with less prominent names.
It doesn't have to be this way.
I've learned a bit about death and suffering in my life; some of I've experienced first hand, some of it I've been spectator to - but the worst atrocities I have been tethered to are those committed first by the SS at Buchenwald Concentration Camp and then by an ignorant government who put the well being of its fighting men behind its position on the global state.
Those whom I know that have looked directly into the Heart of Darkness have been forever scarred, but that mark has been a blessing in disguise.
When you see how fragile a life is, you come to appreciate it, and every moment of it.  Any day spent on the right side of the grass is a good one; any day that ends well, ended well - and that's what matters.
Only by embracing this philosophy do you realize that life may be fragile, but it's tenacious and empowering, for those who choose to live it.

We can choose to define ourselves by titans of our past, but that's the thing - they existed in a time where our worlds were simpler and our responsibilities diminished.  Who knows how our fathers would manage the trials we face today?  Odds are, not as well as we might like to tell ourselves. 
Instead of trying to measure up to mythical superhuman ancestors, our challenge lies in looking forward and growing the best world out of the materials we have at hand today. 
This isn't a world we build for ourselves - too much harm has been done for us to stop so short.  Our generation owes it to the next to leave the world in better shape than we found it, which we're not doing now. 
Back to politics.  We can focus on short-term partisan wins, wedge policy, partial solutions, our own gratification or loss in the mix, but what does it say about ourselves if our legacy is to inflict the ominous presence of our own demons on others?
Truth is, there are a lot of familiars shadowing the footsteps of political people, id edging them towards spiteful tricks and spinned responses. 
It's the easiest way.  It's what the others are doing.  But no matter how many wins to earn or bridges you burn, the results are the same - one starts to the walls of that well growing ever higher.  More often than not it take a hand reached out to help us through.
We can all improve the culture of cynicism and break the cycle that sees our democracy crumbling, but only when we commit to something greater than our own reputation or the well-being of our partisan tribe.
We, as individuals, don't matter.  What we believe in does.  Honest to god, there's comfort in that.

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