Shedding light on the political darkness

By: By Sheelagh Matthews

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Dec 04, 2013 10:13 am

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They say it’s always darkest before the dawn, and if our countdown to solstice is any indication, I’m counting on them being right.

With the return of the light to our dark winter days, solstice gives us reason for hope and celebration. Even our seasonal holidays reflect the coming of light. Whether we observe Christmas, Hanukkah or some other festivity, aren’t we really celebrating the coming of light into our world, the goodness of mankind and the hope of a good future?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about darkness, it’s this: light can permeate darkness, but darkness cannot permeate light. We see it all the time; dark simply vapes in the presence of light. Sure, there may be residual shadows of darkness where there is light, but for the most part the dark is lifted away when light shines upon it.

Yet on so many levels and in so many ways, darkness is a part of our daily lives. Every day, after the sun goes down, it gets dark. Aside from a full moon on a cloudless night or electrical light, the nighttime, as we know it, is dark.

Then there’s the darkness of a different kind that may fall upon us when we experience a great loss of some kind. Perhaps we lose a loved one, a job or our health. Losses of such great magnitude can send us into a heart of darkness of our own, a darkness often made heavier and denser by the wearing of dark clothes, or the closing of drapes to shut off any stray beams of sunlight, or hope, from entering.

Sadly, we have borne witness to a great darkness in Canadian politics lately, too. Thanks to the unbelievable antics of Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford, we, the people, are no longer in the dark as to just how bad it can get out there. This is one of those times, I think, when ignorance would be bliss. But, let’s be careful not to mistake ignorance or bliss with a meaningful solution.

Speaking of dark days in Canadian politics, let’s not forget the recent Senate scandal. A very bright light is being shone on what seems to be a “let’s line up at the taxpayer feed trough to get our fill, and then conceal that we’re doing it” kind of mentality from some of our politicians. It is no wonder Canadians aren’t impressed with their so-called leaders anymore.

Now that the light is revealing all manner of misbehaviour, isn’t it time we collectively reflected on how to heal the very soul of our Canadian political system? Maybe the new light entering our world with the winter solstice will help us better see how to fix what’s wrong.

I am grateful that not all politicians want to lead us into the dark. Some of them have brought much hope into our world, like John F. Kennedy. Not just America, but the entire world, suffered a great loss the day JFK was shot down in Dallas — exactly three years and two weeks after he was elected president. Sadly, Nov. 22, 1962 will go down in history as the day one of the world’s greatest lights was snuffed out.

Then there was JFK’s brother, Robert F. Kennedy, another great man who was also assassinated. Bobbie was a senator when he visited South Africa during its dark years of apartheid, a racial segregation system we all now recognize as being wrong. This excerpt from his “Ripple of Hope” speech, delivered at the University of Cape Town in 1966, reminds us there was once a time when politicians spoke with light-filled inspirational conviction: “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Using RFK’s words to inspire us, let’s take responsibility and face whatever darkness comes into our lives so we can transmute it. Being prepared to receive the light, see the light and be the light — now that’s in our best interest.

For more in your best interest, follow Sheelagh on Twitter @sheesays.


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