RIP Jack Layton

August 22, 2011

This is tragic. Jack Layton was awesome. It feels like only yesterday I wanted him for Starship Captain/Prime Minister and now he’s dead? Goddamn. Cancer sucks. He was exactly the kind of man we need in these times: idealistic and energetic and wry, forceful but not disagreeable. The kind that does not consider hope and compassion to be things one shies away from, no matter how jaded the populace (oh America, how jaded you have become). A joyful politician, that’s a rarity, one I hope we see more of in the future. I’ve never seen him in person–I wish I had during the last election when he sprightly campaigned with a walking stick–but even on TV, he always seemed a man deeply alive. L’espoir/hope is the most beautiful word in any language. It needs its defenders. It’s so goddamn easy to be nihilistic about the economy and politics. It’s easier still to be angry and bitter, full of resentment. It’s so tempting to think society and government aim to serve everyone but you and yours. These are troubled times to be sure but that’s why men like Jack Layton should exist, to remind us of the better angels of our nature, and to coax us into justice and compassion. Us modern humans, we don’t ever go quietly into our better nature.

It’s fitting, I guess, that Jack’s last lines (as expressed in his deathbed letter) were “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

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