Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Remembering Saint Jack

Would we feel differently about Jack Layton if he had not died so tragically a year ago today?

I've been thinking about this all week.

Yesterday, I saw him compared to John Lennon.

Come on, I thought. But then I paused. Yeah, you know there are similarities.

Both had their time on Earth cut short. Both inspired us with their words.

Love is better than anger
Hope is better than fear
Optimism is better than despair

Those words touched the hearts of every Canadian upon Jack's passing.

We remember them. We hold them close.

You may say I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one.

Words of poetry spoken at a time when people were searching for answers, inspirational words that were so simple they took our breath away. They made us want to believe again.

It took an illness to turn Jack Layton into Saint Jack, our newest unofficial poet laureate. Before that, he was just a bicycle-riding politician -- a wily often irritating broken record with a sunny smile and an unusually optimistic world view.

Like every politician, he had a platform and policies, but he was no visionary.

Just a man running a party that most people liked but nobody voted for.

That all changed when Jack fell ill.

The illness changed Jack Layton into a visionary and a poet. He was more like Terry Fox than Wilfred Laurier, a man of steel with great determination, a person who turned his own personal tragedy into fairy dust. Illness made people want to vote for Jack, just as illness made people want to help Terry find a cure for cancer.

Illness gave both men their legacies.

Illness gave Canada two heroes.

Both Terry Fox and Jack Layton did one thing for sure.

They made us want to be better people to our core.

That's more important by far than winning a stupid election and bringing in new policies.

That's how I will remember Jack Layton -- the man of the hour today.

How will you remember him?

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