Oh Captain! My Captain! *


You knew that I was going to have to comment on the passing of Jack Layton, didn’t you?  Prime Minister Layton (for all of us proponents of proportional representation) understood that (and I’m quoting myself here, from my facebook page) “Justice isn’t just for wealthy, attractive, groomed people. It’s for disturbed people, poor people, people with horrible hygiene, loud people, and sick people too.  It’s for everyone, inclusive of – everyone.  I think he really got that.”  I know it’s pretty conceited to quote myself, but otherwise I’m just repeating myself, and I like the way it came out the first time.

Some politicians would like for the poor to be Deserving, to be Grateful.   Some of the poor are not photogenic, surprise surprise  Some of them are tired and bitter. There’s no romance to poverty, it’s squalid and unpleasant.  We’ve got plenty to go around in this country, we just don’t spread it evenly.  

I’ve been an NDP supporter for many, many years, since before I was old enough to vote.  I’ve had a few meanderings into the Green Party and once even *gasp* – Liberalism.  But I’ve always returned, because the NDP best stands for the values in which I believe, regardless of its leader.  We lacked charismatic leadership.  Our leaders have always been sincere and resolved, but somewhat rumpled and tired.  And then came Smilin’ Jack.  He wasn’t perfect, he was subject to a few scandals.  Politicians, though, are examined more closely than the common throng.  My life wouldn’t stand up very well to close scrutiny, that’s for sure.  I inhaled.  But he had conviction, and he had compassion.  He was handsome, and he was charismatic.  And he went to York U, so he’s okay in my book!

Jack Layton was heroic in his ability to give a voice to people who no voices.  We have nothing to gain personally from caring for the marginalized in our society.  It’s just the right thing to do.  It’s civilized.  Aren’t we a civilized society?  I’d like to think so. I think he symbolized a real turning point in this country, a real awakening.   Let’s stay awake.  Let’s not rest and grumble, let’s continue to go forward, to care for each other.



*Walt Whitman, on the assassination of Lincoln:

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead


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