BY GERRY CHIDIAC
Lessons in Learning
The terms “left” and “right” date back to the French Revolution. Their meanings have evolved over time, with those who held more socialist ideals being called economically left-wing and those who supported free-market capitalism being called right-wing.
Today, despite obvious disagreements, one sees a great deal of unity on many important issues between the so-called left and right. However, this reality is often masked by a media landscape financially backed by corporate and billionaire interests, insisting that these political orientations are deeply divided and antagonistic.
While this might hold true among well-paid media pundits, does it hold true for ordinary citizens? As someone who enjoys engaging with and learning from diverse viewpoints, I beg to differ. As politicians exchange barbs in the House of Commons and the media – all while receiving “donations” from corporations – regular Canadians are having productive dialogues.
Major political parties, notably the Liberals, siphon public funds to provide lucrative contracts to international corporations promising green energy solutions. Left-leaning individuals rightly question whether these funds would better serve ordinary Canadians. Similarly, advocates of a free-market economy challenge the burden of carbon taxes on small businesses like truckers and farmers. Ordinary Canadians of all stripes are pointing out that this not only increases the cost of food, but corporate food vendors are also using it as an excuse to raise their prices disproportionately.
Our robust middle class owes its prosperity to historical leaders willing to blend socialist and capitalist ideals for the common good. These leaders engaged in the sort of conversations ordinary Canadians relish, facilitated by a public broadcaster that encouraged balanced discussions among diverse groups.
Regrettably, today’s political landscape is marred by discord, fuelled by corporate-backed media. The result? A lack of progress in improving the lives of ordinary citizens. Canadians grapple with shrinking real wages, making home ownership a distant dream for many. We are burdened with soaring interest rates, while small businesses are edged out by corporate behemoths.
On the international scene, only the Green Party is voicing concerns about our carte blanche commitment to NATO’s unending war in Ukraine. Interestingly, in the U.S., both MAGA Republicans and Social Democrats are calling for a negotiated settlement, diverging from their country’s corporate political majority’s blind support for the military-industrial complex and ongoing death and destruction in Ukraine.
However, venturing away from the billionaire-backed media reveals a surprisingly more balanced discourse. On the one hand, CNN’s Anderson Cooper repeatedly interrupted American Green Party presidential candidate Cornel West, accusing him of endorsing Vladimir Putin. On the other, West and Russell Brand shared a hope-filled conversation about their idealism.
Similarly, Democratic presidential hopeful Robert Kennedy Jr., subjected to unfounded accusations on CNN and MSNBC, is allowed to express his views fully when engaging with both left and right-leaning interviewers in other media outlets.
Our world teems with individuals striving for moral consistency. While political leanings might inform our views, they do not define our humanity. The growing trend of questioning divisive narratives and challenging extremist groups’ “cancel culture” is laudable. It seems we’re inching closer to the internet’s promise of a free-flowing information exchange.
Ordinary citizens are seizing this chance for honest, legitimate online dialogues, and nothing could be healthier for our democracy.
Gerry Chidiac is an award-winning high school teacher specializing in languages, genocide studies and work with at-risk students. Check out his website here. Find him on Facebook. Or on Twitter @GerryChidiac