Occasionally something happens that is so far from what I expect that the alarms go off and require a rethink of my worldview. I heard about such an event recently. It involved Canadian Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty and the French Ambassador to Canada. I love surprises.
A surprise as in the “That’s odd.” sense. Surprise is foundational to learning and growth.
As many who know me are aware, I have little patience for self-serving and pretentious politicians. I especially have a problem with the ones who say they are trying to help. God save me from the helpers who tell me about what they will do but then disappear, do it poorly, or make life harder. “Politicians don’t help me,” is one of my life-simplifying generalities. My younger daughter calls these prejudices.
My political leaning is toward pragmatism not to ideology. If something does not work, it should stop no matter how good it seems as an idea. Evidence based decision making. None of our political parties, and few anywhere else, have that fundamental bias.
Here is my recent surprising situation.
A prominent family is holding a garden party for a large number of business, political and diplomatic people. Sadly, I was not invited. However, the family employs, as a general handyman, a retired person that I do know. He helps them out at such events.
More people came to the party than were expected so more tables were needed. The handyman went to the storage and began to find, carry out and set up the tables. A difficult job for one person in the circumstances.
Two of the attendees at the event, without being asked, helped him. Mr. Flaherty and the French Ambassador to Canada.
This seemingly trivial event has triggered two amendments to my world view.
Since this discovery I have had a warmer feeling towards Mr. Flaherty’s efforts as finance minister and of him as a man. Good on you sir.
A third fallout from this is to estimate that there may be other politicians who work selflessly and well. Perhaps it is the media that fails to show them as people. Perhaps I need to be more curious. Possibly I underestimate how difficult their job really is. At the furthest possible extreme, I might be wrong about them. I will work on that.
Surprising things need to be examined. They demonstrate that you do not know everything that matters. Like a mistake, they are your friend. This tiny event shows me that there is yet hope.
Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.
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