Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops on Monday, October 21, 2019.

By the time you are reading this (this was on Monday of course), the voting is in full swing. Did you vote? Please do, voting is defining democratic right that no one should take for granted. The campaign has been wild enough and many say politics is ugly. Yes, it is at times, but we cannot do without. And voting gets us closer to where we want to be. Hopefully. I know, it’s a nail biter.

Regardless of how one feels about the campaign, there is something we all need to acknowledge: it takes courage to put yourself out there as a candidate. The volume of nastiness that comes to wards those whose names are up resembles a tsunami of some sort; discouraging even, but such is the nature of the game.

On the other hand, the good parts prevail, I am being told: meeting people and learning about fears and worries and hopes too; knowing you might be chosen to represent your community and the responsibility that comes with it, learning the intricacy of human interactions which adds so much to our society. We ought to say thank you to all candidates – for signing their names up and walking the walk (literally and otherwise.)

Every campaign has its defining features and for this one, I think what stood out was the focus on the young generation. Many people I know voted with their kids in mind and more than just politicians talking for a few extra votes, the involvement of the young ones among us was significant. The climate march, the conversations with the candidates through forums and school gatherings, the votes that older students got to cast, they all managed to shine a bright light on what matters the most which is the future.

Once the votes are counted, let’s not stop talking politics though. The good, the bad and the ugly will keep on coming but that’s what life is about too. As long as we keep that momentum going, we will not be taken by surprise.

Talking politics is considered by many to be impolite, because it can be divisive and turn ugly at any turn, but it doesn’t have to. I said before and I will keep saying it: talking politics can be constructive, and it is necessary, on one condition – that we maintain a civilized public discourse. Knowing your politics (even if it’s just localized politics one chooses to focus on,) means being able to form an opinion, add your voice when needed and standing for worthy causes and good-for-the-community developments.

Many of the high school students who voted had the future in mind: the environment, proper access to (good) education, building of an economy that will not favour those who are already doing well, but everyone who is willing to give it their hardest. It’s what they perceive as essential to a good future.

In politics, we all now that, there’s ugliness of a special kind. People’s morals are being exposed and the conversation about it bubbles for a while. Past the sensational and the memes in social media, that’s the chance to talk about healthy moral values and why they matter.

More than ever before, seeing the turmoil a few determined people can create around the world is reason to be inspired and hopeful, which our young ones need to know and believe. Another one, is emphasizing that social media can be used for the good causes, as well as for destructive ones, so choosing one over the other is something that we ought to talk to our kids at length.

Speaking of inspiration and hope, they start with the individual. Knowing what goes on in our immediate world and keeping the elected officials accountable is but one side of the story; the other has to do with the individual. Our kids ought to learn that too. Concern brings action, which brings change. Whether it is a thriving local economy, or a clean environment, or waste reduction, individual action cannot be underestimated. Every little adds up. When our kids learn that they feel empowered and that encourages them to get more involved.

So let’s keep the political conversation going, and let’s put our actions to work towards the greater good. It is not some utopic concept, but one that can transform people and places for the better. Here’s to seeing it happen, starting tomorrow.