An Endorsement in Elxn42

An Endorsement in Elxn42

All the newspapers are in and the endorsement race is split exactly where you would expect it to be. Postmedia and the Globe have endorsed the Tories (with varying degrees of support) while TorStar and its affiliates have endorsed the Liberals. Here in my endorsement I want to start with why I cannot support Stephen Harper’s conservative party even though in one of the ridings I could vote in, I was considering voting for my local conservative candidate.

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Could Harper come in 3rd on Monday?

Could Harper come in 3rd on Monday?

So it’s the Thursday before election day and 3.6 million people have already gone to advanced polls with what looks like another 11 to 14 million headed there on Monday (given a 60 to 75% turnout). With four more days of campaigning ahead, it is time for people to start making their predictions for the final results of this long campaign. I see a few possible results based on the past few weeks of polling, and though I’m not quite ready to make a firm prediction yet (that will come on Sunday morning), I do have an interesting proposition I want to throw out there.

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Sitting on the GO train on the night of game 5

It’s a peculiar place to be, a GO train heading away from Toronto as the Toronto Blue Jays go into the bottom of the 7th inning down a run in game 5. Everyone sitting around you is umbilically attached to their phones as they would be on any other day. But rather than the random reactions to personal dramas as relayed by text message and email, the whole car would move and feel in tandem.

I’m not a big fan of baseball so this phenomenon was peculiar to say the least. I didn’t realize that the game was still going until mid0way through the trip when the Jays cut the Rangers lead in half in the sixth and a small chorus of high fives and cheers rang loud enough to cut through the podcast that I had playing.

Taking out one headphone, but not wanting to make myself noticeable to the other passengers since, as I said, I don’t like baseball, I started listening to the man in the seat ahead of me as he started describing the game as it came in on his phone.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Jays tied the game up 3-3 with two men still on base and Jose Bautista up at bat. I started really paying attention and the dozen or so of us are waiting impatiently for the call when an audible WOOP comes from below us. Then the customer service rep comes over the PA to announce that Bautista got a homer bringing the lead to 6-3.

People who, I assume, had never met were hugging in front of me and the community of people gathered there had gone from following the game silently on their phones to a raucous celebration as the train pulled into Kitchener.

It makes me wonder what will happen as our boys in blue go to the ALCS and, hopefully on to the World Series. There is something about sports that can honestly and earnestly bring people together, even people who don’t like baseball.

Poetic Thoughts: Tennyson’s Ulysses

Poetic Thoughts: Tennyson’s Ulysses

It’s almost a cliché to say that rereading texts brings new wisdom and clarity to the work. Where a first reading may be focused on the drama of climactic encounters, further readings can find the beauty in complicating action or elegance in the denouement. Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem Ulysses is perhaps the perfect example of this process of finding novelty in classic texts.

Those closing lines are bombastic and shocking, and on a first reading they are often the only part of the text that a novice reader will fully understand. Judi Dench delivers them in the film Skyfall, powerfully defending the need for vigilance in the realm of national intelligence.

They give the rest of the poem context for a reader unfamiliar with Tennyson’s prose.

But returning to Ulysses after what is close to 5 years for me, I find myself focusing on what Tennyson is building to get to those closing words. In the first stanza, Ulysses’ focus is on his pride.

“How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!”
He complains of his kingly work lacking glory and value. His words call to the potential left in his bones for real world changing work. But in the second stanza he softens on the importance of governance, moving the focus from his own potential and pride to defining what works are good and how his son is better suited to that calling.
“This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro’ soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.”
Finally in the third stanza he comes back around to apply similar value judgements on the work that will let him, “shine in use”.

“Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world.

Nobility: for all his talk of glorified battle and sailing beyond the sunset what Ulysses is really grasping for is what a man of his nature is called to. He fought beside gods on the fields of Troy, and though he is getting older, there are still noble tasks to do. It is not too late to seek a newer world and to yield to the world of today is to abandon a better world for tomorrow.

Those final lines often feel like the only important ones in the whole poem, but in returning I’m finding deeper and more complicated intentions in Ulysses, and intentions that I can relate to my own life rather than what at first glance could seem to be the ravings of an aging soldier.

I’m sure this has been written about before by other smarter people than I, but I’m realizing the importance of recording these small discoveries. Recognizing when you expand your horizons and maybe become a little bit wiser than you were yesterday.