My favourite David Bowie song is “Changes” – a catchy tune, brilliant lyrics, raunchy sax solo, and hidden meanings galore. I saw Bowie live in 1983, and it remains one of the most amazing concerts I’ve ever attended. Life sometimes unfolds in unexpected and testing ways: my last blog was written before Bowie died, and before the most recent session of the PEI Legislature opened. It is now three weeks since the House closed, and, to quote the song – “time has changed me.”
I am a changed man since I last wrote: changed in lots of little ways, but also shaken to my core by the death of my mother. I’ve written much about what an extraordinary human being she was, and how she inspired so many people, including myself. One of the most valuable teachings she gave me was her willingness to change. She was always evolving, and I described her as being on a constant voyage of discovery.
I remember reading somewhere that the only evidence that you have a mind is the willingness to change it. I’ve always appreciated people who, despite deeply held convictions, are open to their opinions and values being influenced by new ideas and realities. And the corollary of that – people who you couldn’t prise apart from their beliefs with a titanium crowbar – drive me crazy.
We’ve all come across the proud politico who proclaims: “I’m a Liberal – was born a Liberal and will die a Liberal!” (insert Conservative, etc.) Do you know what I think when I hear that? – What a shame. The Conservative Party of today is very different from the one led by Angus MacLean; the MacLauchlan Liberals, a different animal from the Party of Robert Ghiz. Unless your personal values have marched in lock step with the various evolutions of the Party to which you subscribe, what you are really saying is that you have ceased to think independently or critically, and that whatever is espoused by your team, you will support.
In politics however, sadly some things never seem to change. Last week it was announced that two lifelong Liberals (see above) were appointed to the Health PEI board. It is a stretch, to say the least, to argue that the gentlemen in question have credentials for such a position, and Islanders from tip to tip are both puzzled and piqued at the selections. Patronage; cronyism, nepotism – take your pick; whatever we call it, it poisons the wellspring of Island politics.
As Mr. Bowie astutely says “And these children that you spit on, as they try to change their world ….. Where’s your shame? You’ve left us up to our necks in it.”
But in politics and life, change is not only possible, it is inevitable. Islanders have already expressed their readiness for a new sort of politics, and I look forward to a day when this desire for change permeates all facets of government, including board appointments.