“Never fry bacon wearing a tank top on while sitting in a wheelchair” – Ancient Chinese Proverb
I have always considered myself a political “centrist”. There isn’t a political party that hasn’t presented a few platform I agree with and others I don’t. But that is alright, that is what makes me a centrist and that is what democracy is about. The one ideology I adhere to is my commitment to social justice. My role and my place are consistent on that one. I may not always agree with someones beliefs but I will always defend their right to express it as long as it doesn’t involve violence. If it can’t be settled in a peaceful means, even if that involves agreeing to disagree, then it’s a form of fascism and we are starting to see too much of that in this new evolving political environment.
A common theme among my centrist friends is the diversity of their background and they have all lived in different areas of our great country. They have moved around enough to recognize the wide range of cultures in Canada. That type of diversity breeds centrists, it is hard to get locked into one ideology when you have experienced so many others. It’s much easier to become entrenched with only one way to do something when you have never been more than 200 KM away from your roots.
I was born in Manitoba, grew up in Calgary, have lived and worked in Toronto, Vancouver as well as Vancouver Island. I lived and partied in Montreal for a year before I had to admit that my lack of French would keep me from ever finding work so it was off to Toronto. Each and every time I gravitated back to Calgary. Now I am back in Calgary and I am becoming increasingly aware of the shrinking centre. I believe (and this belief is re-enforced by my like-minded peers) that one’s commitment to being a centrist is directly proportional to their experience and exposure to other areas of Canada.
Without purposely trying to insult anyone, while firmly hammering the message home, anyone who believes all of Canada is alike probably has someone wiping the drool off their lower lip. Canada is a vast and diverse country. Each area is unique while having it’s own issues that require solutions tailored to that culture. This is what makes centrists so important in our community. They relate to solutions and not ideology.
Over the last fifteen years I’ve come to the conclusion that the centre isn’t really shrinking but has more to do with the right and left swinging so far in their own directions that the centre is stretched tighter than a Mae West face lift. And we have political parties that feed on that.
Remaining uninformed on details allows the justification of personal ideologies over what is best for society as a whole. We have a political system that has sunk to the point where politicians think they are speaking for the people while being advised by a bureaucratic buffer zone. A bureaucracy that is more about self preservation than citizen representation. And since it has little direct impact on many of these life’s it is more comfortable to remain uninformed.
When you throw in a new demographic that really doesn’t understand civics, the erosion of democracy begins. When a bureaucracy will spend $15,000 on an appeal to keep a family from receiving $2000 in speech therapy for their special needs child, that’s not democracy, that’s not social justice, that’s a bureaucrats control issue. The centrists I know tend to be more focused on social justice than bureaucratic control while many on the fringe prefer not to know.
Social justice is not something that is just given, it has to be fought for and defended continually. That absence of knowledge or worse, the desire not to know, makes social justice (and by extension democracy) very difficult to maintain. One gets tired of fighting and thats where allies come in. The maintenance of social justice requires informed allies otherwise you just become a “special interest case” and you become “white noise“. Continue reading