A Crisis of Consensus — Lest We Forget

By Jason Menard

On this day, we remember those who came before us and fought for our way of life — our right to exist as Canadians. It is one day that, regardless of one’s political stripe, we come together as a nation under a common belief — to support our veterans.

And it’s an increasingly rare occurrence in this great nation of ours.

Remembrance Day is one day where we focus on a common cause — our veterans and preserving their memories. The paths we take to get there may be different — some Canadians support war efforts; others believe in peace at all costs and abhor war — but in the end we can agree that the focus at hand should be a respect of those who believed in the honour of serving Canada.

If only we could apply that same commonality of focus to help us find a path to bring us together to creating a better community, a better province, and a better Canada.

Instead, we see an increased polarization of political rhetoric. Discourse has devolved into name-calling, sterotyping, and assigning pre-conceived notions designed to devalue people’s thoughts, beliefs, and contributions.

Yes, our veterans fought for the right for us to have these freedoms. We, as a society, have done a poor job living up to the responsibilities that those rights have brought.

You can see it everywhere. In the houses of our various governments, politics is nothing more than a numbers game: majority rules exclusively. We see it amongst pundits and citizen journalists: a siloing of thought so that like only listens to like — and those who don’t follow the same dogma are shunned, discounted, and devalued.

We’ve turned politics into a religion — and those who don’t worship at the right altars are deemed to be heathens.

In London, some are ready to discount the efforts of our current council to the point where the next two years appear to be on the precipice of being wasted. Instead of working with what we have, there’s a longing for the next election. Personally, as distasteful as I may find political behaviour, I’d rather use this time wisely.

I firmly believe that no one side has a monopoly on right. I hold my own beliefs, I have my own opinions — and, depending upon the situation or the the topic, they fall all along the political spectrum. But one belief that I hold dear is that by listening to all aspects of our community, we’ll be able to maximize our efforts, our knowledge, and the value of our shared experience.

The common denominator doesn’t have to represent the lowest point — it can elevate us to new heights by allowing us to combine our respective strengths for the betterment of us all. It allows us to challenge our beliefs with other perspectives and — if taken in the proper context — strengthen our positions.

That dogmatic belief in one way of life to the exclusion of all other ideologies led to the very wars and loss of life that we remember today.

Lest we forget? When it comes to living up to the responsibility to respect those rights that our veterans fought to give us, we already have.

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