ramble post: humanizing Jack

Jack-Layton-low

I was a fan of Jack Layton.  I voted for the New Democratic Party both because of his leadership and the neighbourhood in which I live would have greatly benefited from the NDP platform.  But at the end of the day, Jack struck me as a guy who lived a life that spoke to the convictions in which he believed.  That is a trait I admire in people.

He brought the out-dated social mandate of the NDP out of the basement of Canadian politics by contextualizing the social platform and turned the ‘orange crush’ into a major political party and eventually became official leader of the opposition.  His leadership and message connected significantly with the population deeply concerned with social issues across Canada.

The media coverage on this has been interesting to engage with on TV and online. The major media outlets have been creating a narrative of his life in a few short news clips, blog posts or editorial columns. In the process, because he was an on the rise leader in Canadian politics, they have been extracting what the meaning of his life meant to the Canadian political landscape and beyond.  They have all carried their own agenda’s, opinions and slants on that very same political landscape, thus framing his life in such a way that supports their cause.

Some have been putting him on a divine pedestal with the likes of Tommy Douglas and some totally devalue his the significance of his life and growing influence in politics.  While the media comes at us in all forms with different agencies competitively seeking the dominant narrative of his life, we become lost in a world of signals that is essentially dehumanizing Jack. It is interesting though, in light of all the media that creates Jack to be something bigger than reality, a very human experience has initiated all.

Death.  Death reminds us that we are all fragile.  It reminds us that we are on this earth for a limited time.

Jack Layton had hopes and dreams.  He had successes and failures.  He was, indeed, very human.  May we not hold him too high, or too low.  May our remembering of a political leader ‘gone too soon’ be grounded in his humanity.

When I think of Jack, I think of a guy who passionately lived a life grounded in the convictions that he so deeply believed in.  Whether or not you agreed with his politics, that is something to be admired.

How will you remember Jack?

“Ramble Posts” are little emotional rants of mine that I feel inspired to write from time to time. They represent my incomplete thoughts and wonderings. They are not meant to offend, rather to start a conversation about things that I have been thinking about.

Ramble Post: “Blessed?”

I am blessed.  Not because I have stuff.  Though I am thankful that I do.  And it’s not because I have health, though I am glad I and many of the closest people around me do.  I am blessed because I have begun to understand the deep value of the relationships in my life.  Relationships are life-giving, they give me a glimpse of the divine, not stuff.  This is where I am finding my blessing recently.  My wife, son, family, friends and Jesus are significantly life giving.  My Nintendo Wii and ipod, do not give me the same kind of life.  They take my time, but don’t give me life.  But I have wondered why I’ve been thinking this way lately. 

I have always had a hard time when people talk about being blessed with all the material wonderfulness of the North American life.  I still cringe remembering a prayer said by a guy who wanted to sell his perfectly working car for a better one.  Is that something that we pray about?  But heck, I’ve significantly participated in this consumerist reality and will be looking to sell my house at a good price.  Next on my list is an Amazon Kindle and that’s only because I can’t afford an ipad.  I feel like a hypocrite, this is the problem.   

ipadvskindle

Am I blessed because I have my basic material needs met?  That’s the other thing.  Food on the table, roof over my head, an education, and a Pontiac Vibe are not privileges people world wide are able to enjoy.  People are dying in Africa cause they don’t have access to clean drinking water.  People in my neighbourhood resort to petty crime in order to feed their families.  And there I sit in my house, playing my Nintendo Wii, while listening to my ipod, wishing for an ipad, with my son crawling all over me while I wait for the pizza guy to show up with my sustenance for the evening.  Am I blessed?  If the answer is yes, then why do other people not receive the same blessings?  Answering no to that question feels so much easier. 

When I feel my son’s tender cheek pressed up against mine because he missed me, that is when I feel blessed.  When I can hang out with dear friends who know me like no other, and accept me for who I am, I feel blessed.  When I lock eyes with my wife, whom I know will walk with me for the rest of my life.  I know I’m blessed.  When I think of Jesus and his presence in my life.  I am blessed because it gives me life.  The little boy in Africa who gets a clean glass of water for the first time in a long time is blessed because the water gives him life. 

Blessings are that which give us life, no matter how painful it may be.  If it gives us life, dare I say it is a blessing?   But I just don’t get why others are not “blessed” and refused life by not having their basic human rights met, or denied any hint of a healthy life giving relationship.   So, ultimately I wonder what blessings that come from a good and loving God look like.

Maybe the some of old school Anabaptists of the 16th century got it right when they shared everything.  They shared resources and relationships.  Man, that is what it means to be community.  Maybe that is how it works, though I don’t think that divine blessings are like a currency where some have it and some don’t.  I think the blessing is found in what gives us life.  Right now anyway, I think it is found in the relationships that we build and in sharing the resources God certainly intended for all humanity.  It seems like a way to acknowledge, identify and celebrate the common humanity in everyone.  The humanity that God loves equally.  I continue to wonder about this.  How does God bless you?

“Ramble Posts” are little emotional rants of mine that I feel inspired to write from time to time. They represent my incomplete thoughts and wonderings. They are not meant to offend, rather to start a conversation about things that I have been thinking about. This is the first official one.