Politics seem to be like a pendulum: we swing over one way then, inevitably, we swing equally in the other direction, as if our collective behaviour is somehow influenced by gravity.
Right now, in the shadow of the poorly produced reality show that is America, it feels like we have swung into an age of meanness of spirit, willful ignorance and, in journalism or anywhere, violence against those who tell the truth.
By weaponizing irrational fear and preying on group insecurities, some political leaders are dividing people based on their income, skin colour and religious beliefs for their own self-serving agenda of greed and gluttony.
Watching or reading current events provides evidence of a society that is drifting dangerously close to a territory where truth is on an endangered list and psychopathic behaviour by powerful people is disturbingly, and regularly, rewarded.
The prime minister Trudeau of my childhood, Pierre, once famously said, “There is no such thing as a model or ideal Canadian… A society which emphasizes uniformity is one which creates intolerance and hate… What the world should be seeking, and what in Canada we must continue to cherish, are not concepts of uniformity but human values: compassion, love and understanding.”
Pierre Eliott Trudeau stood in front of the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress, in 1971, championing his immigration policy of the time and stated that a Canadian is someone who is judged by the values they possess, not the colour of their skin or type of dress.
My column is usually about reflections on the vast, all-encompassing topic of mental health, so what is with the current events viewpoint and political history lesson?
I believe mental health is the primary way we perceive and interact with the world, and everyone and everything in it.
Mental, social, spiritual and physical health are woven together to make the polychromatic and richly textured tapestry of life: enmeshed and interdependent.
Like the health of our body is reliant on our neurochemical and behavioural well-being, the mental health of an individual is dependent on the wellness of the society we live in together. We are, of course, social animals, hence, we depend on the environment we occupy for sustenance and the people we cohabitate the planet with for our social and spiritual nourishment, as well.
The universal and timeless, and Canadian, values of compassion, love and understanding can be thought of like an inoculation against the societal sickness of fear and mistrust that is manufactured by leaders with self-serving, nefarious agendas.
In our beautiful, bountiful city or on our blue planet, if compassion, love and understanding are the values at the core of our decisions, we will do the right thing and take a stand against bully behaviour in the school halls or in the halls of power, from municipal to global.
Everyone's mental health is at stake.
Robert Skender is a Powell River freelance writer and health commentator.