“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” —Margaret Mead
I heard Paul Dewar, MP, speak on Sunday. His topic: “Having faith in politics”.
(This topic could be interpreted two ways, but this is Canada where we like to keep our faith and our politics in separate pockets, so in this case, it meant restoring faith in the political system, not examining the faiths of our elected representatives. A timely topic for my American friends, too.)
Dewar ‘s talk was a call to action for his audience, a plea for us to re-engage in political activities. “Put our faith in the change that can happen when we work together,” he said.
Why? Because alone we can’t bring about the change we want, but together we can.
According to Elections Canada, in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s at least 70 per cent of the population voted in federal elections. The first time it dipped below 70 per cent was in February 1980. Since 1993, the number has not reached as high as 70 per cent, and in October of 2008 only 58.8 per cent of the population voted.
Maybe we’re all a little too comfortable now, or maybe the intense media scrutiny of modern politicians has led to an age of cynicism. Whatever the reason, voter participation is dwindling, and this worries Dewar. He points to the long list of societal changes that came about because of the power of the people,—changes like reducing acid-rain, reducing the blood diamond trade, and giving women the vote. “People having faith in politics made it happen,” Dewar says.
A disengaged populace is an immobilized populace.
Dewar says it’s time for people to stop confusing their feelings about individual politicians with their feelings about politics itself. Politics unites people so that the power of each individual pools with the power of others to create the potential for great change.
Don’t think that you don’t have power. You do.
combine it with that of others to make it greater. Otherwise, 58.8 per cent of the people make decisions that affect 100 per cent of the populace. As Kate Mereand-Sinha’s photo says: “Vote! It’s your democracy. Unless you can’t be bothered. Then it’s my democracy.”
During his talk, Dewar didn’t mention or promote his own political party, and he didn’t disparage other political parties. He referred only once, politely, to “his contemporaries across the floor.” It was enough to renew faith my in politicians.