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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.

Friday 24 January 2014

Community - What CosPlay and Politics Have In Common

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character.

   - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Political people love cosplay.  They just don't know it - or at least, may not admit to knowing it.  

But part of them does.

Politics is a multi-faceted jewel with more than its share of inclusions.  There is fowl play, high drama, lost friendships and enduring grudges.  Somewhere in there are legitimate differences of policy preference, too.

But for anyone who has been to a political event - an Annual General Meeting, perhaps, or a leadership conference - they are familiar with that something extra, that something special that shines brighter than any blemish.

There is something special about being part of a process, of belonging to something that's a bit bigger than any one person.  It's certainly true of political teams, when a sense of common purpose exists; while there are some politicians and operatives who see Parties and events as tickets to their own success, the vast majority are there for what they contribute to.

But it goes beyond that.  

I've been at leadership events where strangers representing different candidates will sidle up to each other for a picture and a pitch, all with a smile.  The same holds true for events where folk from different Parties find themselves together, shirted up and ready for action.  

Beyond the walls of the convention hall and without the uniform, these folk would probably never even think of connecting, but something about the space that gets created when we put on our political super swag suits changes everything.

More than that - there's this mentality that forms where people are simply less judgmental all around. 

Not every political enthusiast has a head full of campaign lore, knows Minister by name and is fluent on the latest policy debates.  Shockingly, there are some who come out just because they love the feeling of being part of the political process.  

And you know what?  That's fine.  While there are always daisy-downers in a crowd, looking to pick fights and rain on other people's parades for morale reasons (to weaken someone else's or to raise their own), for the most part people at political events are accepting.  It doesn't matter your accent, your education, your anything - other than a commitment to be part of that community.  

You may have lots to give, you may have nothing; you may be young, old, New Canadian, 6th Gen or First Nations - none of that sets you apart, it simply adds to the texture of the community.

Like cosplay, it's that commitment to being yourself, being respectful of others and adding value to the greater whole that matters.  

When you make the effort, the community returns it.  
Is there a lesson in this for would-be leaders, looking to unite people behind... something?  

I think there is.

UPDATE 4/Feb/2014 - Avengers Toronto, assemble!

There's this funny thing that happens to me somewhat regularly - I'll write about something like, say, community created through costume, and then I'll find out that it actually exists.  I could tell you exactly why that happens, but where's the fun in that?

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