We Have Been Here Before: Thoughts on the Election


The Canadian federal election is today and the country is astir with anticipation and excitement around the potential of having another governing party in charge of the direction of Canada. Voting day is meant to be a time when people feel empowered in having their voice heard and their vote counted. I have to admit that the buzz around this election seems louder than I remember in the past. I also see that a large part of the buzz is directed toward the intention of removing Harper’s Conservative party from power. Given their track record, both around election time with illegal and shady actions and during their time in power, I have to agree with the desire to see them removed and the direction Canada is heading, changed. I guess the next question becomes – what is the best way to affect change in the world?

Leading up to this election I have witnessed and participated in more political dialogue than ever. People seem to be aware of the crash course direction we are on and are seeking some change. Being a part of the generation that feels disillusioned and disempowered in affecting the course of our nation, I thought it would be useful to use writing as an outlet to have my voice heard in some way. After all, being heard is what politics is about, isn’t it?

To me, a healthy and democratic political system is one in which people feel heard and empowered to participate in their own way, each and every day. To me, a single vote every few years is hardly a democratic system. To feel the momentum and desire for change behind a single day is inspiring – but is that all it is to participate? To cast a vote, wipe our hands clean, and think the job is done?

One of the shifts I see happening on the planet is a move to a more decentralized system – one in which people become empowered on a local, and more importantly, individual level, in the direction of their lives. We are experiencing a breakdown of the traditional hierarchies and systems of control – the belief that someone outside of ourselves knows what is best for us. The authorities and experts are at as much of a loss as to what to do about the crises of our planet. It is on the individual, local level that I see the solutions we require emerging rapidly. And all too often, the old systems are interfering with the budding nodes of change, bogged down with bureaucratic red tape and words like ‘liability’, ‘safety’, and ‘security’. How do we shift to a system of decentralization and local empowerment?

Through a breakdown of the old systems, the old habits and patterns that are no longer serving humanity and the planet.

It is said that when the Roman Empire crumbled, the ruling powers were bringing in excessive and nonsensical laws to better control the unpredictable population. They were laws that the people could see through and chose to ignore and disobey (ex. see today’s prohibition efforts). As the hands of control attempted to tighten their grip on a population slipping through even faster, the story that held together the systems of control and authority broke down. During a time between stories, when we stop believing in an old story and instead look for something new, the ground is fertile with the seeds of change. How do we keep the momentum going while ensuring that we are not replacing the old emperor with another in new clothes once everyone goes home?

Enter Harper

I can see that a large part of the reason people are becoming more vocal and active at this time is because of the actions of the current government. It seems as though many who may not take the time to vote are now doing so from the desire to have ‘anyone but Harper’ in power. Our personal choice of voting for the candidate we desire, reduced to a strategic vote for anyone else but Conservatives. It is as though we have accepted there are no desirable alternatives and are instead focusing on the lesser of two evils. Is that really the kind of intention we want to put behind our vote? Can we create a system where our choices are aligned with that which we want, rather than choices aligned with what we don’t want?

To paraphrase one of my favourite social commentators, Russell Brand – whenever I say, “Don’t vote – there is nothing to vote for”, people seem to focus more on the ‘don’t vote’ part – rather than the ‘there is nothing to vote for’ part.

When I hear of scandal after scandal, irresponsible behaviour, false promises, shady power moves, prioritizing of corporate interests over people needs, the bickering and rabbles of parliamentary ‘debates’ (they sound like children – no offense to kids), and the overall divisiveness of politics – I can’t help but feel that such concentrated power is not meant to fall into anyone’s hands, least of all for as long as Harper has been Prime Minister. I can barely handle a hand full of people looking to me for leadership and inspiration – how is anyone supposed to handle the collective voices of millions?

We’ve Been Here Before

I’m tired of the identification with labels like “Conservative” or “Liberal”, “Capitalist” or “Communist” that divide people apart and interfere with coming together through our deeper commonalities. I’m tired of the ongoing and exhausting debates around voting. I’m tired of the over-hyped, excessive spending of politics and elections – like it’s turned into some glorified wrestling match that distracts us from other problems. I’m tired of the bickering and personal smear tactics of our supposed leaders. I’m tired of the same issues being discussed and debated, ad ininitum, with no real change taking place. Can we create a political system that brings people together through our common desires for happiness, health, and security?

Will it matter whether Harper is in power or not? Are there mechanisms in place that ensure the destructive direction we are on will continue? Do we give one man too much credit for our downfall? Do we cast our blame onto another, further entrenching their illusion of power and control? We all play a part in the direction of not only our own lives, but the entire globe as well – no matter what our societal role may be. Look to the thoughts and feelings within you that reflecting upon the image of a man named Harper bring to light.

We are brought up with stories in which there is an easily identifiable enemy that the good guy must conquer and overcome in order to vanquish evil. It makes a solution like getting Harper out of government seem like a reasonable solution to our problems. But what if the cause of a crisis is not so easily seen? What if a man is merely a vessel for something much deeper within each of us, something calling for attention and healing?

Time will tell…

Will Harper and his Conservatives retain their majority government come tomorrow morning? Certainly the noise of late indicates that it is unlikely. But if they do, will people become that much more active and vocal into the future? Or will they become further disillusioned to politics through a re-enforced feeling of powerlessness? Will another party take majority, leaving everyone feeling satisfied with their contribution, just to sit back on the couch and watch the false election promises drift by? Does the direction I see the world heading even depend at all on who is in power? Perhaps Harper will win and continue his party’s corporate alignment and drive for greater control – further pushing people to push back? Politics is supposed to be an ongoing dialogue, after all.

I know there is a part of each of us that believes change is possible. It is the reason many are rallying at this time, focusing their collective attention to shift the direction and allocation of power. Personally, the kind of change I aim to create and envision for the world – the kind of change that is necessary at this time – cannot happen within the current systems. Each of our systems – from banking to government, science to education – contain a seed that will sprout anew – this time from the heart of the matter. Like a caterpillar transforming to a butterfly – the nodes of change will overwhelm the old defenses and what emerges will be completely different from what was before. But the core – the DNA of the caterpillar – the heart of each system – will remain the same.

I guess it all depends on you and me. Not necessarily whether or not we vote today, but rather on how and when we each choose to remember the power we all have within – a power that is no match for any of the destructive forces at play in the world today. A power that says each of our actions (or inactions) has an effect – and that such an effect ripples out into the world beyond our own observation and understanding. A power that we will collectively rediscover when we choose to come together for what we believe in, to stand for something new, and to rise above the limitations imposed onto us from those interested in convincing us we are powerless.

None of us knows with certainty how the future will play out. It is when we learn to see the positive potential – the greatest opportunity born of the deepest crisis – of any present situation, that we become the world changers we were born to be.

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