Wednesday, March 23, 2016

March 23, 2016

Last week, the Prime Minister of Canada made his first official visit to the United States. As part of this visit, he and his wife were the guests of honor at a State Dinner given by the President and First Lady at the White House. It was the first time in nearly twenty years that a Canadian PM was so honored.

I like Justin Trudeau, and that liking has little to do with his politics. I liked his father, too. When Pierre Trudeau was first elected PM, I was a teenager. He was different from what I was used to seeing, in my young life, and changed the way I looked at our elected officials. Instead of being old and stodgy, he was younger, and had flair and style. There were several instances when he did things a little off the wall. The time, for example when he jumped in the House of Commons (I believe he was Justice Minister at the time). The sound of his feet hitting the floor reverberated very loudly inside that august chamber. He said he was just trying to make sure everyone was awake.

 Then there was the time he was caught on camera and lip readers claimed he dropped an F-bomb; he denied it and stated he said “fuddle-duddle” instead. The father was fresh and dynamic and outspoken, and I liked that.

The son is different, too, but not in such a dramatic way. I like that he is not a lawyer. He’s been a bouncer, and more recently, a teacher. He has a lovely wife, and three children, and when they are all together, you can see that family, for them, really does come first. How many other world leaders and their wives take their children out “trick or treating” in their neighborhood on Halloween (Mrs. Trudeau was in costume)?

Family came first at the State Dinner, too. Not only did Justin and Sophie Trudeau bring their children with them. As part of the Canadian Delegation, they brought their parents—Justin’s mother, and Sophie’s mother and father.

I’m not particularly political. I don’t care for dogma. I care for honesty and heart. I care for accountability, and a degree of humility. I believe Justin Trudeau has all those qualities. I like positivity, and the campaign he ran for the office to which he has been elected was a very positive campaign. There was no mud-slinging from his corner at all. Despite the ads the opposing parties aired, all targeting him, he refused to let the tone of his campaign turn negative.

Of course, he hasn’t been tested yet, and he’s new to the job, so time will really tell if he’s a good leader or not. But when he became our Prime Minister, he brought an air of optimism with him, and that is something we very much need in this day and age. It’s hard to stay upbeat and optimistic in these often harrowing times.

It’s hard to keep looking for the good in others when it seems only the bad makes the headlines. Sometimes we have to actively seek out that which is good, and just, and remind ourselves that we humans are capable of great kindness, generosity and love.

So it was fun to see how well the man some here have dubbed “Prime Minister Center Fold” was received not only by the officials of the American government, but by the people. One of things that Justin has said many times is that our similarities are greater than our differences, and being a diverse society, such as we are, makes us stronger. I like to believe he’s right. I’ve traveled a fair bit, though all of that travel has been on this side of the globe. I’ve been to Cuba, the Dominican Republic, The Bahamas and Bermuda. I’ve visited, so far, 27 of the 50 United States. Some states I’ve been to more than once. And in my experiences, I’ve never felt like a fish out of water. I’ve always been able to find common ground.

We all, for the most part, love our families and want the best for them. We all, for the most part, want to live in peace, and find happiness. We all share a single planet, and we depend upon that planet to sustain our lives.

We may disagree on how to achieve our common goals of peace and prosperity; but those are really only details.