Life is about strife, about conflict, and finding that balance that allows us to live a good life. In other words, too much of anything is not necessarily good. As the aphorism suggests, all work and no play, is not a wise course, as is its inverse. Thus, we constantly seek to find that happy medium within our lives that affords us stability.
Finding a balance within political decision-making is no different, with the exception that in our system, our politicians seek to find a steadiness between communal and societal needs and those of the individual. And, as we know, this seems to be no easy task, for when you take from one to give to the other, you create much contention. This is because the idea of creating a sense of fairness when looking at the “public good” is subjective, and thus inherently flawed. Those from each side will argue the merits of their case to protect their own self-interests. And there is no shortage of examples on this subject.
Culturally, through our values as Canadians, we do lean more toward favouring communal needs, as we see the intrinsic public good found therein. Healthcare and education are two such areas for which Canada is proud and which we use to distinguish ourselves from our American cousins. They offer both a benefit for the individual, especially when one becomes ill or is injured, but, more importantly, they offer a true economic benefit for our society. Because of these two social goods, we have created a strong, healthy, and well-educated workforce that allows us to be more competitive with other economies.
This is not to say that we do not respect the interests of the individual, as we are still based upon the liberal ideology that favours choice and freedom, which should be under consideration. As citizens, we are very sensitive to when things infringe upon those freedoms, becoming aware of the sense of injustice, of something that no longer seems fair. And many politicians, especially here in Alberta, love to play upon these matters, playing both the victim and the hero standing for individual interests. Such acts obscure the issues for their own gain, while the government of the day seeks to find some balance.
As we near another election, this is something we should always try to remember, as everyone who wants to be elected is making us promises, which we will either pay for, or incur a cost from, in the end. We should take this into account when voting in the next two weeks (as with all elections); such ideals of balance, and even fairness, are qualities that we should want within our council, so it too can reflect such principles that are at the centre of our Canadian values.