(Image: Jackman Chiu)
Those who have lived enough come to realise that life doesn't boil down to anything more than simply caring for each other. That's why there's something to be said about the great outpouring of sentiment about the loss of Jack Layton.
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.
I've lost track of how many times I've observed people on and offline repeating that line in his farewell letter. I can't think of any other current denizen of the House who could command such genuflection.
People respond this way because of what, beyond anything else, the NDP stand for. If Jack Layton's inheritors are smart, they will use that final quote as the party motto and set the country on fire. If they're wise, they will embody this in who they are and how they act.
It could work. The comment stands as white light against the darkness of today's politics. Just observe the contrast between the sentiments contained within the letter and expressed by well-wishers and the the impropriety coming from the other side of the aisle.
There is morality at work in Canadian politics now well beyond the simple ideological or technical differences over economics or social policy. Prisons, exported torture, tar sands, expeditionary wars, asbestos exports, are all built on unkindness by people who at best do not recognise shared humanity, or at worst find it uncomfortable.
This amorality and misanthropy cannot compete with the sentiment in Mr. Layton's farewell. There's a momentum in the emotion generated by his passing that must be put to good use in the coming years. I'm not sure I agree that Harper benefits most from Layton's passing. Harper's brand of attack politics works only on the living. and as the reaction the Blatchford column suggests, speaking ill of the dead earns you few votes.
The one-trick pony Conservatives may well find themselves facing a significantly empowered opposition operating from a clearly defined and incontestable moral position. And that, my friends, is reason to hope.