Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Idiot's Un-suffrage

Those of you attuned to Canadianica will know that we're in the process of selecting a new government.

I love political campaigns: it's absolutely amazing to watch how the different parties unfold their strategies and bounce off each other like a bunch of Superballs in a washing machine set to spin. Pun intended.

I also love listening to talk radio during campaigns, and it was on a CBC call-in show that I heard a guy opine with disdain, "Why should I vote?"

I'll tell you why. I'll give you just one reason, although there are hundreds of thousands.

You should vote because 61 years and 6 months ago today, a soldier stormed France's Juno Beach in the wee hours of the morning and was promptly thanked for his efforts with a random bullet to the gut. He collapsed on the sand and waited for a medic, but eventually bled out and died.

During his painful, prolonged journey away from life, his thoughts were trained on his newly pregnant wife who he had left home in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and on the fact that his son or daughter would never know him. He prayed to God for his wife and child, which was a remarkable thing for him, as he never really considered himself a devout man.

The pain was unbearable, and it seemed to go on forever. "Hurry up and die," he ordered his uncooperative body, but it still dragged on. The assault was still raging around him; nobody had noticed his fallen form among the thousands on the beach.

It did not occur to him that he was dying for a greater good; the last thoughts on his mind were not focused on the ethics of his sacrifice, but on his wife. He imagined her soft hand caressing his cheek. He recalled their rushed wedding with warmth. He thought of the cognac he had sipped with her father when he asked permission to take her hand before he shipped out.

I don't know this man's name. I don't even know if the details I describe here are accurate. Frankly, aside from the D-Day reference, I made the whole thing up. Odds are, though, that I hit pretty close to the mark. We lost a lot of soldiers over there. And they fought to defend freedom, even if they didn't acknowledge it. Such things are often only obvious in retrospect. There is no doubt that Hitler, Mussolini, and Hirohito wanted to keep going. North America was the only intact place left in their tightening vice. We can say their defeat was inevitable, but only fools say that events already cemented in time were going to happen anyway.

This man's sacrifice meant something. It helped. It worked.

That, you idiot, is why you should vote. Because a dead man says so.

If you don't like that, I hear China's a nice place to live.

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