It’s New Year’s Day and I have reason to reflect on so many things.
This year, I’m thinking about “gifting” and its place in our culture. My meanderings through retail aisles this season left me in a quandary. What’s appropriate for my middle-aged children who lack for little? What will excite a teen who is thoroughly engaged with an iPhone and the internet? How many unicorns are enough? How can I possibly justify buying anything with plastic or made in a distant location in today’s world?
Well, all that wondering and wandering started me thinking about my lifetime of receiving gifts? What were the best ones? Healthy children? That really warm, furry blanket last year that warms my arthritic knees? Those wonderful internet chats with our daughter? A loyal husband? Or maybe one of our trips? Oh, the twists and turns of the human mind.
Just about then, the TV news started and the political world leapt onto the screen: Trump’s impeachment, Britain’s Brexit, Scheer’s resignation, Venezuelan refugees, Syria’s devastation, Africa’s continuing struggles, Canada’s fragile government situation, and so many more.
It was then that I knew that my best gift ever was democracy, a gift, received from my grandparents and their parents when they emigrated to Canada and invested their hard work and strong values in their new country. They probably never thought about how far forward their gift would go, but that newscast created the bridge between my world and how the lifestyle I so love is dependent upon a fully functioning democracy. It has worked to make my “world” relatively safe from violence, open to change, and free from want. This is the kind of world I want to ensure comes to my children and their children’s children.
Suddenly, I knew what I should have seen and valued much earlier in my life: good government offers freedom, fairness, and equality, all necessary foundations for the comfortable life I’ve had.
So, here are my thoughts on the best gifts you can give going forward.
Work actively to protect Democracy. It is central to everything we consider Canadian. When it starts to slip away, it happens quickly and is exceedingly hard to get back.
Democracy depends on the consent of the governed, every one of us.
Power flows from us, the people, through elected representatives to the leaders.
Without regular input from everyday people, democracy starts to slip away.
It is my responsibility as a citizen to be well-informed and make my views known.
My work begins by watching carefully how leaders and representatives use their power. This means that my key responsibility as a citizen in a democracy is to participate in public life.
Engaging in the democratic process means reading, listening, and thinking critically.
Most importantly it means engaging with your community by speaking politely, respectfully, and often on situations and issues that concern you.
We have three avenues through which to engage: municipal, provincial, and federal. Have you ever
- watched a Town Council meeting? (they’re live streamed)
- attended a County Council meeting?
- engaged your elected representatives in conversation?
- talked to your Member of Parliament about an issue?
- called your MLA for help?
-sent email comments to them about policy changes?
Elected representatives need our input to make good decisions and represent our best interests today and tomorrow.
My New Year’s resolution for 2020? I will be more engaged in the government decision-making that determines the course of my life. Please join me!
Rise up and shine
Against the darkness
That encircles you.
Speak up strongly
With vehement words
Retire no more in silence.
Your time has come.
Become the change you want to see.
Leslie Childs is a member of the Amherst News Community Editorial Panel.