Leaving BI Aside for Just One Day – for Something More Important

August 23, 2011
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I really do believe in keeping religion and politics out of the workplace as well as my personal feelings out of my blogs and writing. But today is a little different.

I really do believe in keeping religion and politics out of the workplace as well as my personal feelings out of my blogs and writing. But today is a little different.

Yesterday, Canadians lost a political giant – Jack Layton, the leader of the NDP and opposition – after losing his battle to cancer. Even though we lose public figures all the time, and sometimes with not much more than a mention, losing Jack is different. For those of you who know anything about the dryness of Canadian politics, it is fair to say that no matter which side of the fence a person falls on or who they voted for, Jack made politics interesting and had a true sense of integrity by actually making people believe that it is possible to be a politician and still care about people and by being committed to doing what is right. And more importantly, that it is possible to change the status quo while staying within the political framework to do so.

With all of the current global political turmoil, general economic uncertainties, environmental disasters, and the like, sometimes it’s important to step back and take notice of the people in the world of politics who maintain their integrity and really, truly care about those around them (whether or not you agree with their political views). And most importantly, because life can be so fleeting, losing Jack makes us take a step back and appreciate what we have and those we love around us and take stock of where we are, what we’ve done, and what we hope to achieve.

On an interesting note to those fascinated by social media, aside from Jack Layton becoming a top worldwide trend on twitter, it was estimated that in the hours following his death, over 10,000 tweets went out in the form of condolences, links to information, and the like. Social networking really has helped change the way people interact and share information. All of the incoming tweets were literally a blur within my TweetDeck, so it was hard to follow and a little overwhelming. It was probably the first time that I’ve ever really been affected by the power of social media and realized the full opportunity it provides for people to connect with others.

On August 20th, days before he passed away, Jack wrote a letter to Canadians that he wanted published should his treatment not go well. I am including some of the excerpts below:

“To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.”

“To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.”

“And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change.”

“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.”