There is no room for the abuse of power in a civil society—period.
Recent revelations have focussed our eyes on the reality of our so-called civil society. From the #MeToo movement that has rocked the entertainment industry, to closer to home with the betrayals of the entire Ghomeshi episode on all fronts, recent scandals have rocked the halls of power, reaching high into the very pinnacles of the political front—with cabinet and admin staff resigning in seemingly unending series of waves.
The vast majority, by an enormous percentage, of those accused of abusing their power have used it to force unwanted personal interaction, to put it nicely. But as women have been moving into positions of power we hear anecdotal incidents of women abusing their positions as well. So, is it a manly thing? Or simply, as our teachers tried to explain to us, is it a question of confounding variables. There are immensely more men at the pinnacles of power; from the little shop on the corner to the corporate office, men abound in positions of power. It is a factor of our longstanding romance with patriarchy. Well, guess what? That romance is over, if not yet buried.
But perhaps it is also something in the general male psyche, or maybe some genetic switch, which causes men in power to become blinded to the consequences of their actions. How else do we explain the strange, sad, and alleged incidents that have led to a meteoric fall from grace of such political titans at Queen’s Park. With all of that which has gone on, what in heaven’s name were they thinking? Well, heaven wasn’t where their heads were at, but wherever it was, it was definitely dark.
The message has to continue to get out, past the crude locker-room postering of the populists, past the oh-so-far-too-many instances of an abuser escaping retribution for their sins, past any “boys will be boys” excuses from the administrators of justice and past our own timidity of the herd. Abuse will not be tolerated.
Timidity of the herd is that tendency to sit quietly as a room fills up with smoke to the point of choking because nobody else in the room full of people seems worried about it. We can no longer afford to be timid in creating a civil society. Those who would abuse power should and must be expelled from that position of power, for with power (and wealth) comes a far higher bar of responsibility.
Our children need to hear that message from our lips every day. Over and over. Until humanity gets the message that we will require a civil society if we are to survive through the coming technological tsunami and climate change. The future (and near future at that) appears to be the coming of quite the perfect storm if what the social and physical scientists are saying is true—and there are just too many of them agreeing to be complacent.
Now that is not to say that the sky is falling (at least we seem to have licked that ozone layer issue), but the stakes are simply too high to ignore. We are going to have to learn to pull together, and abuse of power, from anyone over anyone, is not going to aid that effort. Call out abuse, call out bullying; don’t be part of the timid herd because Canada simply can’t afford to ignore the foundational values of what makes us truly Canadian: Citizens of a just society.