An Open Letter to All Federal Candidates

Dear Candidates, 

I’m not a politician.  I very rarely enter in to political debate and rhetoric.  I exercise my right to vote when the time comes and I typically vote my conscience. It is with that preamble that I beg grace from each of you as I wade into uncharted and uncharacteristic territory.

We have all seen the footage.  How could we not?  A tiny lifeless body shrouded in grains of sand, the ocean beckoning him back to a watery grave.  We’ve seen the photos of a Turkish official gingerly plucking that little boy off the beach and cradling him close to his chest; as if the warmth from his body could somehow bring the dead back to life.

We sat horrified, tears dripping down our faces as we watched his father navigate the murky waters of grief after living the nightmare that was happening in his own land.  We have been affected.

We have, I hope, been changed. 

My very own nation is sitting on the precipice of change.  Platforms and campaigns are making waves from sea to shining sea. I am glad for this privilege.  The very thought of being able to exercise my right to vote brings me unspeakable joy, particularly now as Alan’s death has reminded us all that human suffering and oppression still snakes an insidious path around this world.

I had hoped however, breathed a whisper of a prayer that the leaders of my country, Canada, would set aside partisan politics for one brief moment to discuss the plight of thousands of other refugees. Many who will stare death in the face and be defeated by its gaze.

I am ignorant on most things political, but I know enough to know that my wish for reasoned and unanimous discussion during the middle of a federal campaign is tantamount to political suicide.

But yet, I cannot stop dreaming. 

I cannot get the image out of my mind of an undivided Parliament that is willing to suspend the debate to focus on compassion.

I have read the articles.  I have seen the news. The numbers of how many and when to open our doors have been bantered about, an act of showmanship, each one-upping the other.  Each attempting to determine the cost of human worth.  I have heard the debates about military action and working to stop ISIS in its tracks.

Should Canada put feet on the ground in Syria? In other countries?  Probably.  Possibly.  I’m not really certain, but of this one thing I am certain.

A country that chooses a prevailing discussion of war over that of compassion creates a battleground ripe and fertile for fear and death.  Can we not for one moment look humanity in the eye and declare enough?  Enough fear.  Enough suffering.

Enough.

Enough.

Enough.

There is no good immigration policy, no good campaign that leaves a little boy washed up on a sandy shore half way around the world while trying to find freedom on the beaches of another land.  There is no good platform that does not consider the impact of human suffering or turn its ear to the voice of compassion.

I am begging each of you to close your eyes with me.  To just for one moment let the political wheel come to a full stop and to just close your eyes.

Wish with me.  Dream with me.

Dream about what Alan’s life could have been like had he made it to the shores of our land or another land willing to open its doors.

Let yourself imagine how here in our land he could have grown strong and free. 

Picture with me, Alan graduating from college, getting married, finding happiness.

Do you see it?  

I do.

And…

I see it in every other haunted gaze of the thousands of refugees looking for a glimmer of hope.

Please.

Can we show the world that we are compassionate?  Can we show the world that OUR beaches can bring hope and life? 

We have a rich history in this country of being a lighthouse to many who have suffered.  Please let’s not extinguish that light.


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