Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The ‘good son’ rides again

To me, the most maddening footage running through the early episodes of Ken Burn’s Vietnam series is the story of the patriotic teenager Denton Winslow “Moogy” Crocker. With his parent’s reluctant consent, he made it to the fight, and the day after his 19th birthday was killed on a hillside, years before his draft-call, and well before his well-spoken mother and her leaders voiced their qualms about the war.

Thank goodness faith in western institutions today is not so terribly influential as it was after America settled two world wars. Yet, amongst us still are waves of good sons and daughters ready to take on causes their parents take seriously around those dangerous family dining-room tables.

In Canada, it’s much harder to get in trouble for being loyal. Still, the spirit of family solidarity in our politics ought to get more attention. Certainly, its force belies any tingle of nervousness excitement about this so-called transformative era and is bigger than stale speculation about whether any politician these days really believes in the formal religious teaching they adopted as children.

An exceptional public figure can survive the bitterness of switching parties and, today, seeming indifference to the Crown and God is ignored. However, can you think of a surviving politician who was found out to be a bad son?

Jagmeet Singh Jimmy Dhaliwai, Andrew James Scheer, and Justin Pierre James Trudeau have more common as sons than are divided by either ideology or religion. Indeed, as sons go, they’re each at least as reliable as their predecessors.  Each displays gravitas not so much as thinkers or partisans, but as sons who can be trusted.

Justin Trudeau is pretty laissez faire about his policies and styles of dress. And, he’s especially loquacious about his entire life--what he learned from his father about honor, and needless to say, how patient he was with his mother. He may be the family’s peacock, but isn’t a Trump-north narcissist.

The most exciting thing about Andrew Scheer may be the ‘fire wall’ between his religious beliefs and his politics, both inherited from his parents. The smoldering question is whether he’s allowed himself enough space to grow into anything more than the eager teenage son of a Catholic Deacon in Ottawa.

Putative New Democrat leader, Jagmeet Singh is the most spectacular straight of them all.

GQ magazine may have made his exotic religious garb camp and harmless. Nevertheless, his multi-colored collection of turbans, his Kirpan, and metal bracelet--and simply surviving as a faithful Sikh in a high school in working-class Windsor, Ontario--all together display not religious fervor, but foremost the universal qualities of a loyal son.

He might not re-win Quebec or have the tactical genius to broaden the NDP vote against a left-wing Liberal Prime Minister. Certainly, no New Democrat leader has yet. However, the fear that a social democrat may have an alien Sikh-inspired hidden agenda is implausible.

If you’re one of those Canadian who vote according to what you believe will most appeal to elites in other countries, you’ll stick with Justin Trudeau. However, if you’re bored with pastel slogans like ‘diversity is our strength’ and want to show off 2017 Canadian values, Jagmeet Singh is the real thing.   

Strict atheists and radical secularists may regret that he hasn’t given up his religion, even quietly, like a typical Anglican. At the same time, however, they would have to admire that he stuck with those who brought him to this place.

Despite their family trees and long left resumes, the others can’t match him when it comes to honoring those core values that are the deal-breakers in the land of the good son.

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