Jack Layton, leader of Canada’s NDP party, succumbed to cancer Monday morning. Knowing he had little time left, he wrote a letter. I’ll quote from part of it:
Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.
Nothing about believing in God’s power to change anything. There’s nothing in there about God having a finger on cancer victims either.
please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.
I don’t know if he was a religious man, but clearly he was a sensible man who understood what the people and this country need.
Imagine what kind of letter a man like Governor Rick Perry would send in his last days. Richard Cohen at the Washington Post likens him to one who “clings to an ice floe of diminishing credibility” but apparently he’s not letting that get in his way. His religious ideology won’t allow him to support the changes America will need to make in terms of climate change, changes the whole world will need to make, point of fact. Supporting a notion that God’s at the root of everything from origins to morals to military power winds up making him popular in some circles, but troublesome everywhere else. Cohen compares his tactics to the style of G.W. Bush.
All his prayers and instincts could not, for some reason, produce weapons of mass destruction or impose a plan for governing Iraq once a nominal victory was achieved. This is a terrifying way to make policy.
He did that that “not at all political!” prayer rally a couple weeks ago, after all. What was it if not a blatant attempt to drum up more Christian support for his potential platform? He’s a governor, after all. How could it not be political? A politically inspired prophet? It’s an idea he wouldn’t see as too far-fetched, probably. Especially if he can claim God wants everything he might ever want. No doubt he’d love to rule the country by what he’d consider divine right.
Well anyway, that’s as political as I ever get on a Tuesday. I’ll leave it to better-informed writers now.