Why can’t we all play nice?

The federal election is over in Canada and most of us are heaving a sigh of relief.
The signs will be gathered up and the campaign strategies will fade from our TVs and radios and newspapers, and we all will exhale and hope that the new government will focus on what we deem to have value and importance in our lives.
The outcome of the election was a victory for some (most of us if you look at the sweep) and disappointment for others. But the greatest evidence to me of a healthy electorate, regardless of the result, is voter turnout.
The 2015 election saw 68.49 percent of Canadians cast a ballot compared to just 61.1 percent in the 2011 election. Saskatchewan led by example with 72 percent of the electorate finding their way to a polling booth.
Perhaps the most important participation comes from our young people and those who are marginalized in this country. I was hoping for statistics in the 80th percentile but we fell short—though an increase from the last election is an increase.
Austria demonstrates citizen involvement in the running of that country with 92 percent voter turnout in a country where voting is non-compulsory; something to aim for certainly.
I am impressed by our schools, where the curriculum includes teaching the intricacies of our electoral system to our children. Having our young people engaged in how we run this country is essential for the future.
It only makes sense that those who understand the process will have a greater likelihood of participating.
One of the by-products of this election that I found disturbing was the conversation on social media. We are fortunate to have a forum in which we can share our views and opinions.
But (and I hesitate to use this word after last week’s column) it seems we lost sight of our democratic process and chose instead to fling insults and participated in name-calling and belittling.
I enjoy reading the postings of those whose politics differ from mine; doing so reinforces my opinion, makes certain my choice is founded in fact and accuracy.
We seemed to attack one another, however, and certainly attacked those in the race.
Ugly words were used. The flinging of nasty names. Why is that necessary?
I know I’m a bit naïve (okay, a lot naïve) to think we can go about this process with healthy dialogue—disagreeing at times, collaborating at others. This isn’t a game, though; we all want to come out the other side of an election as winners and whenever we vote, we are winners in the truest sense of the word.
We should be encouraging others to participate in the process, but not by dismembering the opposition. Instead, we could focus on the ideas; on the hopes.
Anytime I hear a government tell me their mandate is based on caring for each other and caring for the planet, I’m all in. We didn’t hear that from every party.
Gandhi said: Be the change that you wish to see in the world. I try to live my life by that standard, though I fall short many, many times (every day, in fact). At election time, I hoist that idea out front where I can clearly see it.
I would like to get back to building a strong country that cares about those who are building communities within her borders.
wendistewart@live.ca

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