He Listened

I had the privilege of seeing a New York Time news story yesterday.

The title was “Trudeau’s 21-Second Pause Becomes the Story in Canada”

The lead-in sentence read:

“Prime Minister Justin Trudeau struggled to find the words to answer a question about President Trump’s response to the protests roiling the United States.”

I did not read the full article at the time but made a mental note to do so.

I let the story title run through my head yesterday. I had heard both the good Justin Trudeau has done for Canada and the not so good when economic challenges were favored over environmental concerns. I did not know which story this would be, but I had a hunch. I’ve been there many a time, paused in thought, and for good reason.

I woke this morning, made coffee, and sat down to find the story, which was now everywhere, picked up by every publication and video streaming service known to the privileged, those with access to Internet and devices and perhaps a job.

I watched the video. The reporter was very clear and concise with his question. You can listen to it in full on YouTube.

Justin Trudeau listened to the reporter. He did not smirk or squirm or use body language to denote his thoughts. He was listening. He was not trying to come up with a quick response to dismiss the question or as some of the “pause” stories claim, spew boilerplate rhetoric about how disappointed he is in the actions of other leaders.

He listened.

He listened.

He listened.

Is this not what a great leader does?

Is it not the full responsibility of a leader to listen to the people he was elected to lead and then take appropriate action that would meet the needs of all people?

Leaders who listen to us are great leaders and those that don’t, well, you finish this sentence.

After a time, the pause, highly criticized by some of the most noteworthy news agencies in the world, Justin Trudeau began to speak. I had to look up the word consternation (feelings of anxiety or dismay, typically at something unexpected).

Justin Trudeau’s Response.

“We all watch in horror and consternation what’s going on in the United States. It is a time to pull people together, but it is a time to listen.

It is a time to learn what injustices continue despite progress over years and decades. But it is a time for us as Canadians to recognize that we, too, have our challenges.

That black Canadians and racialized Canadians face discrimination as a lived reality every single day. There is systemic discrimination in Canada, which means our systems treat Canadians of color, Canadians who are racialized, differently than they do others.

It is something that many of us don’t see, but it is something that is a lived reality, for racialized Canadians.

We need- to see that, not just as a government and take action, but we need to see that as Canadians.

We need to be allies in the fight against discrimination. We need to listen, we need to learn- and we need to work hard to fix to figure out how we can be part of the solution on fixing things.

This government has done a number of things over the past years, but there is lots more to do and we will continue to do that because we see- we see you, we see the discrimination that radicalized Canadians live every single day.”

In my opinion, he answered the question, fully, respectfully and perfectly. He called out the disparity of humanity in his own country, and how Canada and the world need to solve this atrocity once and for all.

The lead in for this story, this moment, this 21 second pause as Justin Trudeau formulated his response should have been:

“Justin Trudeau calls for an end to racial inequality.”

It is beyond the time to assert that all people are created equal and to respect one another for our differences and be grateful for the diversity each of us bring to the lives of all people.

It is disappointing that so many news agencies jump to conclude that one is weak, when in fact, one is conscious, intelligent and caring. Humanity is better than that, or at least we can aspire to be so.

Featured Image – New York Times and YouTube

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