Our political landscape has become incredibly polarized over the past few years. We seem to have lost the ability to find common ground. If you sit down and talk with people from different ends of the political spectrum, a shared common goal seems to be the right to be free to pursue our hopes and dreams.
This quest for freedom has become a battlefield. Each side demands that the other side stop trying to control it.
For some, control brings to mind the restrictions around abortion in the U.S., a philosophy that has made its way into Alberta through organizations like the Wilberforce Project. The mandate of the Wilberforce Project is to fund the nomination of pro-life candidates and influence health policy. The narrative is so strong that the Prolife Alberta Party has the third highest funding of any political party running in this election.
For others, being left alone means that they shouldn’t have been made to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, or shouldn’t have been required by their employers (mostly in the health field) to be vaccinated. They also want their bodies left alone.
Being left alone with regards to money often relates to taxes. Many people want to keep as much of the money they earn as possible and believe that they should have the choice of where to direct their money, whether it’s to be used on themselves or to fund charitable organizations that fit their own values.
Others believe that everyone has the right to participate in society, regardless of their economic capability, and think that taxes should be used to make our province equitable and accessible for everyone. They would ask, “Does someone who uses a wheelchair for mobility not deserve the right to have infrastructure that allows them to get around as much as someone who has an expensive car?”
Everybody wants the right to live their life on their own terms and by their own direction. No one wants to be told what to do. But because we live in a society with other people, we have to compromise about how we can best live together.
Imagine your neighbour likes to have bonfires. They put all their garbage on their bonfire, from paper to plastic milk jugs. When it’s windy, sparks fly out of their bonfire, putting your house at risk of catching fire. Your child also has asthma, so when they are burning their bonfire, your child begins wheezing.
In a world where we’re all left alone to do our own thing, your wheezing child would have no right to clean air. You’d have no right to protect your house from an errant spark. So there are rules around backyard fires. Yes, they restrict the right of someone to burn whatever they feel like burning and force them to pay taxes to have their garbage taken away, but those rules are necessary to protect other people. In addition, we pay taxes so that there’s a fire department who can protect your home if it does catch on fire.
While everyone really just wants to be left alone to pursue their own life and dreams, we can’t actually function as a society if we don’t care for each other. Being left alone doesn’t negate our collective responsibility to first do no harm to others, and secondly, to help each other have decent and safe lives.
So, go to the polls on May 29. Vote. But in the end, remember that we are all fellow Albertans. When you vote, ask yourself, how can we collectively create a province where we can all thrive? To create a province we all feel free in, we have to work together, side by side.