It’s been very interesting reading the responses to my enthusiastic Facebook post (Sept 1st) about Tom Mulcair’s recent Penticton campaign rally with local NDP candidate Richard Cannings. I found the comments thoughtful and positive for the most part.
A few people brought some discrepancies to my attention though. For one, I thought Mulcair said that he supported a $15 minimum wage. He does, but it would only apply to Federal employees and those who work trans-provincially in Federally regulated industries such as trucking, the Postal Service and banks. I was surprised that bank employees would fall in that group, but pleased that a large group of Canadians might be uplifted by a respectful income.
And, as often happens with a Facebook thread, occasional responses wandered off into discussing Mulcair’s decision to not appear at some electoral debates. I’m disappointed that he doesn’t feel a need to be visible in that way and share his thoughts on Women’s Issues for example.
Someone else suggested I read Tom Mulcair’s book if I wanted to know Mulcair’s political agenda, and I might do that, though I like to react instinctively to the living, breathing person. Another response reacted to the appalling story about the family that had been refused immigration to Canada, and the deeply disturbing picture of their son drowned on a beach.
You’re probably asking what this all has to do with Tom Mulcair’s rally in Penticton. It all ties together for me because I feel very strongly that what we’re missing in our race to replace Harper, is compassion. Compassion isn’t a word that’s often applied in political campaigns. I suspect it’s thought of as a ‘soft’ word, not a meat and potatoes word like the ‘economy’, or re-building the ‘middle-class’. Even ‘education’ has a nice solid ring to it. Or how about ‘foreign policy’? But how do we decide what we need, want for our country? We need a departure point for decisions that affect all these ‘issues.’
I feel we need compassion. I sense folks recoiling at that word. Maybe some feel angry. There’s resentment at the implication that they, or we, are not compassionate. Maybe we’re not. Recent research has discovered that compassion is more than a feeling of pity, empathy or altruism. It might be a survival emotion that helps us bond in important ways.
Here’s a quote from an article* about recent compassion research. “While cynics may dismiss compassion as touchy-feely or irrational, scientists have started to map the biological basis of compassion, suggesting its deep evolutionary purpose. This research has shown that when we feel compassion, our heart rate slows down, we secrete the ‘bonding hormone’ oxytocin, and regions of the brain linked to empathy, care-giving and feeling of pleasure, light up, which often results in our wanting to approach and care for other people.” Bonus --- compassion even helps us feel less vindictive toward others. Think about where that might lead in the policy arena!!
I’d love to see our political decisions made with compassion, made from a desire to care for others…, and I’d add to that… to care for ourselves. Why is this important? Because I’m looking for politicians who are capable of compassion. I’m looking for people who will lead from a position of compassion, rather than from the cold, dark areas of economics that put profits ahead of human well-being. I’m looking for people who will lead with their heart…, tempered by the realities of their human / earth centered intelligence. I’m looking for decision makers who recognize that we can’t burn our own, or neighbours house down, in order to keep warm.
I can’t tell you that I find compassion everywhere. But I did come away from Mulcair’s Monday evening rally with a feeling that compassion is hovering out there, not too far away.
Article: What Is Compassion? http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/compassion/definition