Striving to engage with the world in a kind and critical way.

I came across this description on a young woman’s Twitter account and it really resonated with me. First off, it precisely describes what my intention in becoming the federal candidate for the Green Party of Canada is all about.

Let me break this down for you; striving, the first word so aptly captures any endeavour. I can’t say with any certainty that I will achieve my goal, I can only strive to make it a reality. I will strive to reach out to as many members in the Foothills riding as I can. I will strive to bring forward my vision and message to as many people as I can. I can’t make other people do anything, I can only strive to bring their attention to my viewpoint.

Engage with the world is the essence of any political act. I specifically chose to enter federal politics because I am engaged with what the entire world is involved with. I am very involved with globalization from our business interests all the way to my food purchasing decisions. I was asked to put my name in for provincial politics and I declined because I am concerned about the direction the world is heading not just our part of it.

I have spent the last eighteen months working on an art project that followed the world headlines for a year. The second month of headlines was dominated by the Kenyan Mall attack carried out by Al Shabab terrorists. The image I chose for that panel was of the frightened parents shielding their young children from the onslaught in the mall that day.

I was struck by how that mall could have been anywhere in the world. Yesterday I read the news report that was saying that Al Shabab was going to target West Edmonton Mall, like I said, it could be any mall. The issues we read about from other places in the world could just as easily be right here in Alberta. That is why we must engage with the world, we are a part of it and it is a part of us.

Another headline from BBC yesterday spoke about three girls from England who have gone off to join ISIL and the article was asking where they got radicalized. As if we could find that source and nip it in the bud and the problem would be solved. Except the real question is how are we all getting radicalized, because we are. Our viewpoints on most issues are becoming more and more extreme.

This leads to the next important word; kind. In my experience, whether it be in conversation with people or watching a television show, kindness is in very short supply right now. Anger, violence, frustration are the dominant themes. Is it any wonder that ISIL has gone positively biblical in its violence? What is the response back? More violence. Our government feels it necessary to curtail our rights of privacy to “protect” us from this violence.

Two items of note, the first is the planned attack in Halifax and the other is the attack in Denmark. Both terrorist attacks, but apparently not. The people in the Halifax plan were described as misguided youth whereas the attacker in Denmark was clearly a terrorist because he was Muslim. The fact that he was actually born in Denmark didn’t seem to warrant the same description used as was the case of the native born Canadians who were ready to shoot crowds of people in Halifax.

The final word critical. No pun intended but this is critical. The way in which news is being delivered to us has suspended the need to be critical. News is simply an inflammatory headline followed by dubious reporting. The news of old, where reporters actually spent time investigating the issues has been superseded by sound bites put out as quickly as possible so that they don’t get scooped by their news competitors.

It is our responsibility to be critical, read, investigate, dig a bit deeper into those sound bites. Question the authorship of “news” items. Don’t just take things at face value. Remember the old adage, don’t believe anything you read and only half of what you see. In this day and age, you can’t even believe what you see thanks to photo shop.

Therefore, I invite you to join me in my quest to strive to engage with the world in a kind and critical way.