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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 10 February 2013

The Golden Calf of Canadian Politics

Chuck Norris, among others, predicted that Obama gaining a second term would result in 1,000 years of darkness.  That hasn't happened yet.  People the world over misinterpreted the Mayan calendar as suggesting an impeding cataclysmic doom at what was really just the beginning of a new cycle. It's a theme that gets repeated throughout history, from Tokugawa Japan to the Sick Man of Europe to the theory of immutable language.  We have this tendency of either fearing change as the end of the world (at least, as we know it) or an urge to hasten the end so that we can live in a supposed better world to follow.  The more anxious we get, the more impatient we become, willing to settle with what we have instead of building something a bit more ambitious.

What does this have to do with Stephen Harper's penchant for stoking fear of the external and heavy reliance on symbols of yore?  Harper is fixated on an unclearly defined, immutable stability that can only be achieved under his reign and by clamping down on those who would threaten it.  I believe that Harper truly fears the troubles he tells us are lapping at our shores.  He's anxious and impatient about the ability of our outdated democratic institutions to serve his purposes and, as such, has been undermining them in defence of his own definition of Canada.

Alas, the end result won't be what he hopes it will.  Instead, we've seen a steadily growing crowd rising up against his attempted reformation of our country.  By focusing intently on favourable symbols from Canada's past, including the institutions of King and Country, Harper is neglecting the substance of what Canadians care about.

Perhaps the best advice one could offer Harper comes, funny enough, in the form of a metaphor:
Don't be frightened by the crowd - after all, the Church is wherever God's people are praying.  It's through the people, not any institution or symbolism, that the divine is manifest.  The goal of leaders should be not to build walls or towers, but bridges.

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