Photo credit: KaHo Karl, courtsey danice+karl Flickr
Jack Layton passed away today, leaving behind his political legacy and his powerful, moving words to Canadians. As we all embark on new journeys and chapters in our lives, Layton's courage and motivational words will resonate with Canadians forever. Jack Layton's last letter to Canadians affected me profoundly.
I remember feeling excited earlier this year, about studying an area where I would be able to fight on behalf of those who had been disenfranchised. However, this summer I have been hit with waves of doubts regarding my decision. Was I being naïve about my optimism towards changing the world with my new degree? Was it too late for me to be doing this? But reading Layton's affirmation that optimism is better than despair, and that Canada can be a country of greater equality, I saw the answer to my questions clearly: I am in no position to doubt myself, as my life lies ahead of me. My words and my efforts will not be wasted, if I do not waste them.
I voted for the NDP in the last election, in the "orange province" that resonated with his vision and his spirit so much. I felt proud to be a part of that change in Canadian politics. I felt proud to see so many young and fresh faces enter politics for the first time.
So thank you, Jack, for showing me that change is really possible with passion and dedication, and thank you, for giving me affirmation for my idealistic vision and goals for a better society as I embark on this new journey.
I was in my kitchen at 5:30am this morning when I heard about Jack Layton's death on the radio.
"We have breaking news," the radio host said. "We have just confirmed that Jack Layton has died."
I froze. Was this a Twitter rumor that had gotten out of hand? No, it was really confirmed. I felt a vague sadness, the way I always do when I hear that someone I know, or know of, has died. I know that people die every day. There's a person dying right now, somebody's mother, father, daughter, son, grandparent. People are dying on the streets of Syria, fighting for the freedoms that I casually take for granted here.
However, Jack Layton's goodbye letter to Canadians reminds me that I should not be complacent here. There is much work to be done. In a section addressed to young Canadians, Layton wrote:
"As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future."
His words resonate strongly with me, a 1.5-generation Korean Canadian female citizen. Each part of my identity—1.5-generation, Korean, Canadian, female, and citizen—is personal, and political. I'm emboldened by Layton's call for young Canadians to act on their social conscience. I hope that other young Canadians felt the same jolt of urgency as I did when they heard of his death, and read his letter. I say let's get to it, Canada. Let's keep going with what Layton started—disrupting the status quo.Whether that be in the House of Commons, or in your own community, the most important thing is that we just do it, and do it right now. After all, life is so wonderfully, terribly, short.
As I hear the sad news that hits the nation that the NDP leader has passed at such a young age of 61, I think of him as a person, not a politician, and send love and support to his family and friends for their lost.
There is something about reading a letter from a person that has just passed away. He writes it knowing his time is coming to an end, knowing this will be his last words. He really acknowledged his fellow Cancer patients and Quebecers, members of his party and parliament caucus. Though I have never met him and he does not know my name, when I read his words to young Canadians, I felt like he was speaking right to me and could not help but start crying.
His words encourage and comfort you at the same time. I felt he knew exactly what type of challenges and tribulations that I have personally gone through —wondering sometimes "is all this hard work worth it?" The answer is YES! Because I want a better tomorrow, because I believe my work creates value in both my life and in the lives of others. This section of his letter has inspired me so deeply that I will read this every morning to remind me that we do have the power to change the world.
During my teenage years I paid little attention to politics. Why should I care? I viewed Parliament as a place where a bunch of old, white guys sit around a massive oak table and discuss matters that were relevant to them, not to me, or to any Canadian youth. I wanted to vote for a party that did not seem to cast aside the youth of Canada, and unfortunately I wasn't able to find a party that reached out to me and wanted to hear my voice.
Then came along Jack Layton and his crusade for change. And more importantly his hunger to hear the voices of young Canada. I remember feeling a part of something bigger, that something being a drive for change and harmony in the way we lead our lives. Jack respected young Canada and our opinions mattered.
I didn't just admire Jack for his strong-willed nature. Nor did I only admire what he was trying to accomplish. I also admired Jack for not being afraid to let loose in-front of the public, to pick up a guitar or harmonica and play a few tunes, to drink a beer and crack a few jokes. He was personable and charismatic —unlike any other Canadian politician. He brought a light of humanity to politics that few politicians are able to do.
Jack made me care about my place in this country. From his many speeches to the public, it seemed like he believed the impossible was possible. After reading his last letter to Canada, I am left hopeful that all is not lost with his death. In-fact, nothing will be lost, as I know that many of his followers and believers will only show others more love, be more optimistic, and hold more hope. Because that's how we'll change the world.
People to Watch
People to Watch
People to Watch