Initially published as a column in NewsKamloops on October 23, 2015. 

HopeThere is something to be said about caring. It brings out the best in people, it really does. The 2015 elections proved it, and there are numbers to show for it, as 68.5 per cent of all Canadians took to the poles to exercise their right to vote.

That is quite a feat, given the lethargy of previous elections (largest turnout was in 1993 at 70.9 per cent) and it shows many things: that social media can work wonders when used the right way, that many people are not ill-intentioned but often less informed and unaware of the importance of their contribution, and that with eno ugh determination to vote, we have built the path towards a new starting line.

Whoever you voted for, it is the end result that counts. We have a fresh start in how we do things. Promises have been made, hence promises will have to be delivered.

If you peruse the press you will get to see a whole range of opinions about the 2015 election results: from deeply impassionate ones celebrating change in leadership and our new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to doubtful pieces where the authors wonder if our new PM is up to the challenge.

It goes without saying that the job of guiding a country in a balanced, wise way is no easy deed. Many eyes will be following our PM’s every move, the press and political analysts will be discussing his decisions, the many groups and individuals he met during the course of his campaign will be expecting to see the promises made to them come true.

Many of us expect to see many of the controversial policies and trade deals revisited and the terms adjusted to match our national values and leave our dignity as a country intact, and we expect to have the past and the future looked upon with kindness and respect.

Because there is a lot of work to be done, we have to turn our gaze from the PM’s office at times and gaze inward instead.

Sure we want issues minded, both locally and nationally. The change that Canadians brought on with their vote has to reflect more than just the most visible change of all, which is our newly elected leader. But change starts with each of us.

If only we can become so keen in keeping our own actions and decisions to match our promises to ourselves, to our loved ones and our communities, instead of being focused solely on how our leaders perform their jobs, we’re bound to accomplish more than just applaud or criticize.

In other words, we have to make this new start a start in how we live our lives: at a family level, community and beyond. We voted and we did so with the expectation that our voices will be heard and minded.

We have to make sure that our voices will be persistent enough and our message clear. More than that, we need to focus on living in a way that shows that social conscience, the very thing that sent us to vote, is thriving in Canada.

Weaving compassion and care into our everyday life and into our societal fabric might just be what we need to heal the many wounds we kept on hearing over the last few years, many of which have been deepening as they were ignored.

The strength of a nation lies with every citizen. We need to address the well-being of marginalized groups and seek solutions for poverty, mental illness, and addictions. We need to open our eyes to see around us, and our hearts to feel.

We need to revive communities and reinforce the strings that keep them connected because that will see us all safer and better. We need to infuse our personal lives with kindness and do our best to influence the community we are part of to do the same.

These elections are not and do not have to be just about a change in leadership. They are about change from the roots up. A new beginning is always like that. It fosters hope and the desire to wake up to better days.