Federal elections can be stressful. Campaigns can be contentious as candidates jockey for public favour. The campaign this autumn was a bitterly fought contest. The election results suggest a divided country. Many people are expressing fear of separation. It is not easy to see a country in pain.
Populist sentiment does little to equip a people in addressing divisive attitudes. Fear and worry of loss are limited and unhealthy motivators. When a population is reduced to everyone primarily worrying about themselves, the sense of community is distressed. No part of society wins when plagued with protectionism. Self focus never satisfies; instead it produces feelings of discontentment.
Community is not about ignoring your own needs. It isn’t a call to abandon concern for yourself or your loved ones. Community is about caring for everyone: self and neighbours included. And a sense of community is critical for a thriving society.
People of faith are called to be a positive influence in encouraging a society that strengthens community. Sacred writings oblige us to care for the other. Community resists the temptation to separate humanity into categories of insiders and outsiders and instead views all people as siblings.
The recent federal election shows that Canada needs a rejuvenated sense of community. Political leaders will need to focus on rebuilding a shared and positive sense of nationhood. But it will be people of faith and organizations that can help heal the divisions. We must pull people together around common causes rather than be fragmented by regional interests.
This autumn CPJ participated in conversations across the country through our Fall Election Tour. I met many people. I have been heartened by the experience. There are many people who are concerned about the common good. They want to see a society where all can flourish and grow. This will require changes in policies. It will require an acceleration towards a green economy. It will require a more open welcome to refugees. It will involve measures to eradicate poverty rather than simply reducing poverty.
CPJ will continue to harness the goodwill of people across the country. We will bring a growing collective voice to elected officials. We will stand in solidarity with a bourgeoning youth and young adult movement that is demanding real change.
This is an exciting time! Concerned citizens are becoming mobilized. There is a growing realization that healthy communities require the collective cooperation of all its members.
At CPJ we want to be part of this positive momentum. Together we can continue to encourage a healthy society where all can thrive and grow.