As the election wraps up and the real work of governing begins, I’ve been having long discussions with people about how language shapes the future. The quality of that language becomes paramount to creating a better world.
As some of you know, I’ve been suffering from anxiety and the blues as I’ve stewed about my personal and business life and a number of things:
- the tenuous and violent state of the world, even as it struggles to be peaceful, safe, and healthy.
- the looming climate events that are affecting millions of people around the world, which will lead to mass migration and shifting economies, including major issues in our municipalities.
- how society is changing through the nature of information and misinformation/propaganda that is shared through social media and traditional media.
Our conversational skills are collectively weak, somehow we’ve forgotten to be curious about one another’s stories and we seem to be unaware of how our language shapes our relationships, and as a result our communities. Among other things it’s affecting our individual mental health and collective wellbeing.
My colleague Derek Gladwin and I wrote an op-ed that invites people back to a place where collaboration, respect, and dialogue are important as we consider what the governance of our country could look like. With the election just days past, we have an opportunity to think about how the national discussion has gone and refocus our attention on working together.
How we use language and relate to one another matters in how we shape this new government, as well as our futures, and this includes elected officials and media.
This op-ed was first picked up by the Ottawa Citizen. https://ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/gladwin-and-harris-politicians-arent-solely-to-blame-for-nasty-election-discourse
Since then it’s been published by the Montreal Gazette, PEI Guardian, Journal Pioneer, The Telegram in the UK, and The Chronicle Herald. We’ve shared this with the party leaders directly and also with the parties. But, as you might have expected the campaigns were so full of ‘us and them’ finger-pointing it may have been hard to shift back to appreciation of one another’s commitment to the common good. We have noticed that the tone is changing since the election, and wonder if perhaps our voices and those of so many Canadians were heard after all.
No matter how the government is shaped over the next several months, the governance process continues every day with citizens, with you and me, our family, friends and colleagues. With encouragement and effort we all can be better, more curious and open in our interactions and conversations. Because every conversation changes the future, we need, more now than ever, to make those conversations count.
Following the publication of our opinion editorial, Derek and I were asked by Spice Radio 1200 AM in Vancouver (Twitter: @SpiceRadioVan) to be guests on their show to speak about collaborative governance. Hosted by Mankiran Aujla @m_auj93, Safeeya Pirani @safeeya_p and Gurpreet Singh @gurpreetonair, Nai Taazi Spice (Twitter: @NaiSpice) is a news and current affairs talk show. Here is that interview.
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