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Dare to disturb the universe

Let us go then, you and I, to the ballot box this spring.

Let us go then, you and I, to the ballot box this spring. But will we, the Alberta electorate, be brave enough to get the job done right this time? Or, will we forever languish in the world of what was, in hopes that the good times of oil and gas will roll again?

In his poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot shares the timid banality of a life counted out in coffee spoons. In Alberta, we count in boastful barrels of oil and cubic metres of natural gas. True, it’s been heady at times, like 100 years ago when Turner Valley was in its heyday, and then later with the oil sands. Booms are great, but Alberta has seen her share of busts, too. Like now. Things are far from great right now.

Whether in terms of household economics or climate change, today we know more about the long-term effects of our short-term oil and gas gains. We better understand what booms and busts do to us. We better understand how our environmental footprint could affect those newborns and children among us, not to mention the already-anxious Millennials.

It may take a lot of courage for Albertans to change course from our old and familiar ways. But, why wouldn’t we want to? Wouldn’t we rather look forward to a future filled with promise than go through that same boom-bust cycle again and again? If ever there were a province capable of changing course in a big way, I believe it is Alberta.

Why? Because we Albertans are a hardy lot. We work hard and play hard during boom times; we somehow survive the worst of the busts and the harshest of winters. And we are dreamers. It’s just that to make those dreams of a good life come true—for us, for our children, and for our grandchildren—we now need a new direction to get there. And what that new direction involves, at its core, is kindness.

Yes, kindness. Kindness doesn’t mean being soft when it comes to life or business. But it doesn’t entertain the notions of “me first” or “take-what-you-can-at-the-expense-of-others” either. Kindness considers life as a connected continuum: a life where every action takes into account an equal and opposite reaction; and, where new opportunities for job creation look at the whole picture, one that includes the 3Ps of people, profits, and the planet.

The big question today is this: do we have any politicians on the provincial ballot willing to take a kinder and longer-term approach to life in Alberta, in the way we so desperately need? As Einstein is so often credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” Or, like Prufrock in the poem, do we dare to eat a peach? Do we dare disturb the universe?

It is important to remember that leadership starts with us, the voters; and, not with those for whom we mark an “X.” It is our wants and desires which gives power to whom we elect. So, let’s make those wants and desires of a kinder and more future-focused nature than they’ve ever been before. In other words, we don’t need another four-year plan, one which conveniently aligns with an election term. What we really need is an exciting and sustainable 64-year plan!

As we go to the polls this spring election, let’s be fearless, instead of timid or willing to settle for the ordinary. Daring to disturb Alberta’s universe—now that’s in our best interest.

For more in your best interest, follow Sheelagh @sheesays or visit