Have you considered this?

Bob Rae was in Wolfville, N.S. last week, speaking briefly about his new book, “What Happened to Politics,” published by Simon & Schuster Canada.
Rae was named the H.T. Reid Lecture Series recipient for 2015 in the company of past recipients with distinguished academic careers.
Acadia University’s H.T. Reid Lecture series, a collaboration of the Department of History and Classics and the Department of Politics, was established in 1958 in order to give an opportunity to an “eminent scholar or person of affairs” to publicly address the university community on issues of politics and history.
I enjoyed the lecture—the first I’ve attended.
Mr. Rae is unaffectedly human. His suit was rumpled, looking as if he had slept in it for several nights. He exercised his self-deprecating humour that always warms my heart.
He had no hyperbole or political posturing. He was just himself; ordinary and real.
Mr. Rae stepped down from Parliament in 2013 to become chief negotiator for the James Bay area First Nations’ peoples and their relationship with the provincial government.
The one thing that caught me during Mr. Rae’s talk was a point he made about his father. Saul Rae, who passed away in 1999, joined the Department of External Affairs in 1940, where he became a career diplomat for more than 40 years.
Early in his career, the senior Rae had an interest in polling and the information that opinion polls revealed. At some point, he quit paying attention to polls and his explanation was “I would rather turn heads than count them.”
That statement stuck with me. I would much rather turn a head with my actions than spend my time looking for and counting heads that think the same as me.
It is a good guide to remind me on days when I fear our sense of humanity is at peril.
I’m often silent in political discussions, or rather used to be. I’m exercising my voice as of late, not to argue or convert, but as an expression of have you considered this?
And I’m always ready to try to listen, to consider a point I may not have previously considered—“try” being the operative word.
I was eavesdropping on a cluster of men talking politics over coffee while I wrote this column; a strange coincidence.
They were spouting facts but I wouldn’t call it debating because no one seemed to be listening to the others’ points of view or perhaps that is precisely what debating is: waiting your turn to speak.
I can’t even tell you what their particular political flavour was or stance on current political concerns, but I wanted to stand up and join them and say, “Have you considered this?”
It’s a good sign when we feel compelled to join the discussion—and it certainly is a good sign for me.
wendistewart@live.ca

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