Friday, August 26, 2011

On Jack

I must admit, I've been putting off this post.

It's been a few days since the passing of Federal NDP Leader, and Leader of the Opposition, Jack Layton. Like many people, I can recall where I was when I found out about it. I was visiting my parents and brother, and is my habit when there, I stayed up much too late and slept well past noon.

It was shortly before one that my brother came into my room, and told me that I needed to know about something. At which point he switched on the television set and turned over to the news channel, which was covering Jack's passing. Needless to say, I was shocked and surprised.

I recall how a few days before, during a get together with friends, we discussed the future of the NDP.

We reflected on how weak Jack had appeared when he announced that he would be stepping aside to focus on his health, but I assured my friends that come hell or high water he would be coming back to lead the party come September.

Well, sadly, I have to admit I wasn't quite right in that statement.

A lot of people have expressed their grief and their remembrances of Jack over the past couple days; and many of those thoughts have been expressed in ways that are more elegant than I can hope to achieve.

Unlike many, I never personally met Jack. I had attended NDP events where he was present, and had given speeches, but I never approached him afterwards. Perhaps it was the timid man that I am, worried that I wouldn't know what to say, that kept me from approaching him...I can't fully answer why.

But what I can reflect on was his ease with the people who did approach him. Young or old, Jack had way of making everyone around him just a little bit happier. I don't think I ever saw anyone standing near him without a smile on their face, or a smile on Jack's face for that matter.

I'm still struggling to come up with words to express my feelings on this subject, perhaps I will never quite find the right words, but I do know that the loss of Jack is a loss that all Canadians feel. The outpouring of sympathies and grief, across Canada and political lines, is only proof of that.

Since I'm still struggling with words, which is rare for me I might add, I suppose I can only wrap this up with the words of the man himself, which so perfectly encapsulate Jack's vision for Canada and Jack's approach to politics:

"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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