Spirit Quest


Attack ad on attack ads

By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective

Attack Ads on Attack Ads: it is to me the most responsible of all political electioneering at this time, even if an election writ has not yet  been dropped.

Green Party leader Elizabeth May has called for an end to this kind of negative election advertising. Rather than dealing with issues, parties, and particularly the Conservative Party, have resorted to efforts to descredit candidates rather than dealing with party platforms.
If indeed Canadian voters are susceptible to that kind of political tactic then I fear for this country’s future and for democracy. In two world wars Canadian men and women have gone abroad to fight for democracy and against demagogues and their dictatorships. Are we willing to belittle their sacrifices? Are we willing to surrender to despotism of whatever stripe? 
Every day we hear about people in Libya and other countries willing to put their lives in jeopardy to end tyranny and to put government in the hands of the people. Popular revolutions are springing up even as in our country vegetation under ice and snow is readying to burst forth with new life.
Nature has a system that can’t be thwarted, try as we might. Similarly, people all over the world are tired of being brutalized and cheated. It has been heartening to see thousands upon thousands on Liberation Square in Cairo. Day after day for weeks they rallied to demand  the end of the Mubarak dictatorship. As I watched I sensed an anger welling up in me that we take our democracy so for granted, allowing ourselves to be swayed by cheap rhetoric  and destructive political advertising. A sense of shame wells up in me.
What do these politicians think we are, children susceptible to bullying?  And are they right, after all the perpetrators are willing to spend huge sums of money, our money let it be remembered, to deceive the voters? Are they correct in surmising that we are too lazy to confront and study political issues in order to discern what is best for our country, and indeed, how we can be a responsible member the the community of nations? Are we only too ready to laugh and fall for ridicule as party leaders opt for the destruction of each other’s reputation. “They did it too!” is not a valid moral argument.
The new phenomenon on the political scene is the so-called social media. It was through Facebook and Twitter among others that the people of Egypt and Tunis as well as Libya, were summoned to the streets and to take arms against the tyrants like Gadhafi. It has turned out to be a powerful tool that skirts  those “official” organs of communication, that the powerful  elites are willing to pay millions to use in election and pre-election campaigns. Voters are becoming skeptical of what they hear  from paid advertising. Well they should be.
The social media is of course a tool and as such is not immune to be used in the hands of evil forces. It also can be employed to purvey untruth, to aim at personalities rather than issues. But the social media is a kind of new kid on the block and still relatively untainted. I hope that it will continue to be so, to be the vox populi rather than the communicator of carefully crafted messages and managed infomercials.
Will I bore you if I affirm that there is a spirit alive throughout the world  that is opposed to demagogery and attacks on each other’s leaders? 
The people in revolt are largely young men and women. Look at their faces and see the sense of determination that they emanate. Their future is still very much in doubt. We can’t be sure that kings, shahs and oligarchs and their security apparatuses can be quickly vanquished. However, there is an underlying spirit that will in time prevail. 
Will we in the western world be left behind ? Will we prefer to trade places, to sacrifice dignity and human rights for simplistic solutions and election babblegab? Will  Canadians and Americans, Brits and Europeans fall to the lure of wealth and power. Perhaps we have already done so.
I have hope.  Still. 
A few years ago I visited my home town in the  Czech Republic . Before Hitler and his evil minions invaded that country in 1939, it had been a wonderful nation in which Czechs, Germans, Slovaks and Jews lived together in harmony. It was a country where social justice was important for everyone. I was born in 1929 under a form of medicare. Dental care was free for all children as was all education.  Across the street from my place there was a cooperative housing facility providing good homes for working people. Its name was proudly announced over the doorway. That name was painted over by  successive regimes, Nazi and communist. But as I stood there I noticed that those successive layers of paint were wearing away and the name of the former co-op was reappearing. It seemed like a parable to me of the persistence of hope and social justice against the forces of tyrannic power. 
There is a Spirit at work and it shall prevail. The motto of Czechoslovakia  at it inception in 1919 after the Great War was : “Pravda Vitezi,” (Truth shall prevail.) It of course came from the biblical verse, “You shall know the truth and the truth hall make you free.” (John 8: 32)  And indeed it shall, throughout the world but only through the struggle of people, who love justice and peace, who will not allow themselves to be bamboozled by cheep rhetoric .
Grow up, Canadians! Think creatively  rather  than let yourselves be swayed  by attack on personalities.