"My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea." - Tommy DouglasCanada is mourning a Prime Minister that should have been - Jack Layton, the greatest politician our country has seen since Tommy Douglas. The comparisons have been frequently made and will continue for a long time to come. Both were NDP leaders (Social Democrats) of Anglo dissent who loved their work and approached it as they did life; as optimists who believed in the collective will of people to change the world for the better.
(Jack Layton & Olivia Chow, 1997)Most people do their work; Jack Layton loved his. And it showed. As with those rare individuals who relish what they do, Layton attracted others to his side and inspired their loyalty. That's what he did until last Monday when he passed away from cancer at the age of 61.
Stan Rogers and Leonard Cohen, in the poetry of Al Purdy or Susan Musgrave and in the paintings of Emily Carr or Lawren Harris. As a Canadian, I recognize this uniqueness as intrinsically belonging to us.
(Lawren Harris, "North Shore, Lake Superior," 1926)An American or a Spaniard might hear or see something completely different and attach their own cultural attribute to it, but it will always remain originally from Canada. Sure, it's white, Anglo-Canada but that doesn't diminish its power for me.
(Tommy Douglas, 1968)My own spiritual beliefs are agnostic but they bend towards belief in a just universe. I see karma at the centre, but as I grow older I also recognize something larger, perhaps grace, also at work. Grace, as Bono sang, "finds goodness in everything." It's faith, not only that my good or bad deeds will be returned, but that something beyond my control can also deliver me into the hands of joy. It's as simple and as plain as what Jack wrote in his last letter to Canadians:
"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."It's not only there in the substance, but also in that tender phrase, "My friends." That's grace - the faith that a stranger is not really one at all, but is a soon-to-be friend. And as Tommy Douglas said:
"Courage, my friends; 'tis not too late to build a better world."