I don't usually involve myself in politics. I don't talk about it. I don't write about it. I just listen and try to make the most informed choice I can make without getting too into it. But something happened yesterday that made me want to write a little bit about politics.
My kids and I were picking up some bagels at a popular restaurant in Toronto, and it was taking a long time. While we waited, my kids (ages four and six) were really acting up. So when the lady finally handed me my bagels, I was happy to get out of there.
As we were leaving, a group of older men and women came up behind us.
"Didn't the kids want a cookie?" one of the women asked.
"Oh, no," I replied. "They were really acting up in there, so the last thing I want to give them is sugar right now."
"But they should have a cookie," she insisted.
"Yeah, no. It's OK."
"Do you know who this is?" She gestured at a man with white hair.
"That's ------! Your electoral candidate...!"
"Oh, yeah, I've spoken to some of your people about the, umm, the, ummm...."
"The election," the man with the white hair said, snickering.
"Right, the provincial election, um.... It's been a long day."
"Here," the lady said. "Take a cookie."
Ohh, I thought to myself, so that's the cookie she was talking about, and that I guess I was supposed to know about. It was a package of two cookies with a sticker on it that said "Vote for ------."
"Give her TWO," the man with the white hair insisted, and she shoved another in my hand.
Then the lady turned to a man who was sitting there the whole time while all of this was going on. He was in a wheelchair scooter watching, and he clearly had severe mental and physical challenges.
There was a big can in his basket for donations.
"Should we give him one?" she asked the white-haired man.
"No," he said. "It doesn't matter."
And they walked away feeling awesome about themselves.
I've been sitting with this experience since yesterday, and my heart still sinks when I think about it. This electoral candidate who fancied himself a celebrity — Do you know who he is? — gave a woman who didn't want cookies two cookies. And he denied a man who needed a cookie, who also has a vote, a cookie AND said he "didn't matter."
When they left, I went up to the man in the wheelchair and gave him our cookies. He had difficulty forming words, so he struggled to give me a thumbs up instead. And while my son very vocally mourned the loss of his cookie, I explained to my children why that man did matter.
I have chosen not to reveal the identity of this candidate because I can't bring myself to hurt someone's reputation. But I wanted to tell the story. This is exactly why politicians get a bad name. We need people in office who are going to offer a better, more inclusive, vision — starting with whom they see.
Do you know who I am? I should have asked in return for the condescension. Do you know who he is?
Photo by ankakay via Flickr.