I've been thinking about the ramifications of this past election, about what went down and how I'd react to it. How I'd process my... feelings.
I tweeted that night, in a moment of disbelief, that "I have never felt so disconnected from my country as I do at this moment."
As the haze clears and the emotions sort themselves out, I think, if nothing else, that I have this election to thank for one thing: Clarifying, in no uncertain terms who I am and what I believe in.
What I will fight for.
And I think it's something that I think we need in Canada -- at a cultural level -- an education, of sorts, about not just who our Government is but how we each see ourselves, politically.
What do we stand for? What issues matter to us? What do we want from our Government?
I've had an inkling of it for a while now. A few bits I might've been able to put into words before, but this election, this... wall. It gave me something to judge myself against, gave me what I needed to see it clearly.
My name is Brandon Laraby, I'm a Libertarian in the basic sense that I believe you should have free reign to do what you want as long as you're not hurting anyone else. Your life is your life and your body is your own; you should have the right to make your own decisions about it.
I'm also a Socialist in the Canadian sense, in that I grew up far below the poverty line and witnessed people with less than nothing giving, freely, the shirts off their own backs to help one another. I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for a few kind strangers who cared enough to support me when no one else could (or would).
I think that when times are tough I should work to help my fellow humans and when times are good I should share my wealth. In My Canada, the knowledge and wisdom that my grandparents instilled in me lives on -- that kindness and compassion for each other has value, especially when it's the hardest thing to give. Even moreso when it's the last thing you want to do.
I know I've had my fair share of downs, I know how easy it is to lose everything... and, sad as it is to say, it's getting easier.
I am fine with paying my taxes, as long as I see that I'm getting my money's worth and that we are using our riches to help one another instead of spreading destruction. I came from a household that relied on welfare and disability pension to put food in my belly when I was a child... and I fought my way out of that system -- tooth and nail -- to become a working, tax-paying member of society.
I want my Canada to have the best healthcare in the world, to be the forefront of modern medicine -- where Doctors clamour to cross our borders to learn at our Hospitals -- where people who need treatment get it and those who need medicine can continue afford it.
I'm fine with paying to make sure those safety nets continue to exist.
May you never have to use them.
I believe that our future generations deserve our respect in the form of the chance at a quality education. If we're going to pay taxes then I say we spend our money to ensure that our children are not being put through the meat grinder; That they get the education we wish we had and not what some rigid book says they need.
I want my internet to be neutral, that my kids would experience all the things -- good and bad -- that I have. I want them to be challenged by the flow of information, to make their own sense of it and gain a respect for it unfettered by someone else's designs or 'protections'.
I demand that any Government I fund be a transparent and accountable entity in all of its dealings and that it represents the true will of the people through some form of Proportional Representation.
I also demand that no Corporation have more rights than a Human being.
I believe that those who work for the benefit of others, who give of themselves to benefit our society, who work to raise our interactions with one another for the common good should be encouraged and rewarded.
I believe in rehabilitation, not incarceration (with the exception of incorrigible, violent/sexual criminals) -- that every new prison is a marked failure on our part; a failure of our society and our system to give those who have made mistakes a second chance to re-integrate fully.
I believe that a debt repaid is a debt repaid. Not forgotten, but forgiven.
That said, I know that there is evil in the world. That there are those who would wish others harm simply for existing. My Canada would empower people to have the right to defend themselves and to look out for one another -- to help, or get help, when needed. My Canada would take a compassionate, enlightened approach to how it enforces the law. There are many ways to create and uphold order but our current system has proven to be far too open to corruption and personal/political vendettas.
I think that the veil of mystery surrounding drugs should be lifted; that they be properly studied and controlled -- get the facts, the full, honest facts first -- and then decriminalize and tax those that are no worse than the drugs we have already legalized (and taxed).
I believe that we should not fear guns, but be taught to respect them. I held my dad's shotgun at 13 years old, got my own .410 for my 14th birthday and got a good cuff upside the head the very first time I accidentally pointed it (unloaded) at anywhere near another living thing. I grew up with a solid understanding and respect for the power a gun holds.
I know how to use one... but I hope I never have to.
Finally, I say all of this knowing that, for all of our disagreements and frustrations, we are still incredibly blessed as a nation; that there are no single 'right' answers and that the real world doesn't always allow for my ideals to exist.
But when it does, when those stars line up, when there's a chance to bring forth the kind of Canada that I believe in -- the compassionate, kind and just nation that I've already witnessed so many times, in so many small places in my life -- that's what I'm willing to fight for.
Piece by piece.
I'm a dreamer, I know that. I've got an idealist streak in me a mile wide... and I know that too. But I also believe we need that vision forward, that continual dream of a path toward something better. That hunger for the betterment of us all.
Thank you Mr. Harper because for all of your flaws and all the things I dislike about the way you work... you've, in turn, shown me what I care about.
And all I can ask of my fellow Canadians is that you take some time to do the same. To put it down on paper, even if you never show anyone. Just to know, to work it out, to ask yourself the questions and get the answers:
What do I believe in? What will I fight for?
What do I want my Canada to look like?