Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Focusing on What Unites or Separates Us

People who know me well know that I have a fascination for politics at all levels and can often be found monitoring various in-session legislatures in Canada and the US while I am working.

If I hear something that sharply resonates with me or disturbs me, I have been known to make an observation or two in social media, observations that often draw a variety of responses and yesterday was no exception.

Some of my observations about the Alberta Legislature drew some comments from a number of people including Rick Newcombe (@RickNewcombe) and we had a light exchange before our dialog grew a little more serious, including appearing to lean towards becoming slightly contentious.

I’m not afraid of nor do I shy away from such dialog and most times after such dialog takes place, I move on, either because I’m busy, the conversation doesn’t seem to be going anywhere or the person I am chatting with is unable to conduct an intelligent, respectful conversation.

However, this exchange seemed different.  I figured out where Rick lived and despite a heavy schedule, I did the improbable in a world that prefers to send (or hide behind the safety of) emails, Facebook messages, tweets and texts.

I called him.

I’m not sure what he expected when he saw my name appear on his caller id but he answered the phone.

What resulted was a great, positive, respect-filled conversation between two men passionately committed to improving the nature of political discourse and with the ultimate intention of creating a better world for the generations that are following ours.

I was intrigued by our conversation since I have repeatedly asked Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith for answers to various questions, statements and assertions in the past and she has responded by blocking me and others who dare to demand truth, transparency and accountability (even though she demands such things of others).

For this reason, it would be easy for many to believe that a former Wildrose Party election candidate and I couldn’t have a positive conversation and yet we did.


Because people passionate about the creation of a stronger future for our young people find that they have more in common than not and that intelligent, respect-filled, mature individuals can always find a way to collaborate to build such better futures.

Conversations like the one between Rick and I prove that despite initially perceived differences in political stripes, there are many opportunities for dialog – dialog that is healthy, respectful, intelligent, mature, built upon facts and evidence and that recognizes that we all thrive or die together as a society.

Oftentimes we only become aware of our commonalities when we lay aside the sterile, emotionless (or emotion-mistaking) environment of social media and we actually reach out and make human contact.

It is at that point that we discover that our common foundation in the grander human context unites us and calls us to work together to create a stronger future.

I wish some political leaders, including Danielle Smith and others, could understand this and practice the art of sharing, listening and understanding more than the art of shouting and posturing and start focusing more on citizen solutions and less on government failure / replacement?

I think this is critical if we are going to create the stronger future we have the potential to create and which we must create if we really care about future generations.

I also think we need more leaders like Rick Newcombe in the world, providing role models that our young people and some of our political leaders can learn from.

What do you think?

In service and servanthood,



  1. Very kind words Harry. You would make a great politician (not an insult!) because of your level-headed approach to debate. It's rare to find someone like you who can actually handle disagreement and remain courteous in their discourse.

  2. Thank YOU for your kindness, Rick!