Monday, January 26, 2015

An Evening Of Energy

I just returned from an evening out, something that doesn't happen often. The meeting I was attending was to have lasted roughly an hour; it stretched to over 2-1/2, and left me more energized than before.

Those of you who have followed me, here or on social media, know that I've had a political awakening, something that came later to me but that has motivated me in many different ways. Till recently, I have expressed my views in these pages, on Facebook, Twitter, and in conversations with those who care to engage.

But this past autumn, I was introduced, on Facebook, to a woman who was about to launch her political career here in my suburb, as the first Conservative Party member in a long time to run in this area. I was invited to an informal meeting at a café, and was instantly focused on helping her campaign. I pledged my help, and the next thing I knew, I was at her campaign launch evening, where I was surrounded by those just as energized as I.

Tonight, I was back at that same café with her campaign manager, and two other members of what is to be the core social media team for the campaign. Valérie - our candidate - joined us and we began to brainstorm all the ways in which we can help get people engaged. The other two members of the team will be our youth leaders; young, dynamic, interested and connected, they were inspirational in our conversation.

I would have volunteered to do anything that was needed: stuff envelopes, fax, file, call, knock on doors. I'll still, more than likely, do those things. But to be included on the social media team, to be valued for not only my technological savvy but for the skill that makes me the proudest - my writing - makes me feel truly productive as a citizen for the first time in a long time.

I've been a productive member of society. I have worked, raised two sons (and continue to be an active part of their lives as they continue to grow and learn), volunteered at their schools and hockey teams, and other ways in which I have contributed. Especially in casting my vote in every election, whether it is local, provincial or federal.

But now, I have the honor of contributing to an important, dynamic campaign which - if all goes the way it is planned, and the way it is heading - will give my area of the world an elected official who truly knows the meaning of working with, and for her constituents.

I continue to learn about my own political ideologies as I go along. I absorb it - "like a sponge", I've been told. And I am reminded of a wise saying, found in Richard Bach's Illusions: "We teach best that which we most need to learn."

In being hands-on, in learning about Valérie, the Conservative Party to which I am firmly committed, and the ways in which both will work for my community, I am also learning about myself, honing the things I already know, and learning new aspects of political life every day.

Politics - it's a word that gets many people cringing. I believe that's because so many do not recognize that the word only symbolizes the umbrella under which is found every single thing that affects us and our daily lives. Our politicians affect our finances, our way of life, our educational system, our security, and even - in municipal politics - the flow of traffic on that busy street that doesn't have the stop sign it should.

Getting involved in politics doesn't mean one has to run for office. There are so many ways in which an ordinary citizen can pitch in.

Tonight's meeting rendered some exciting new ideas for getting Valérie more recognition, and for getting those who don't understand - or eschew the idea of politics - to realize that they are affected and that they, too, can influence those factors to make their own lives that much better.

You'll be hearing a lot more from me, about our candidate. Her name is Valérie Assouline, she is a mom (four young kids!), a lawyer, and now the Conservative Party candidate for the riding of Dollard-des-Ormeaux/Pierrefonds.

I hope my friends here in my community will hear her message, spend some time getting to know her. She will impress you, as she has impressed me.

And I look forward to the next 266 days of helping her with this campaign, as well as beyond, where - G-d willing - she will be our MP in Ottawa, speaking up for our community and following up on the things for which she stands.

I've felt energized about many things in my life. Tonight, I am re-energized by something I truly believe in, and someone who can make the difference.

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