Embrace Optimism – A Lesson We Can Learn from Jack Layton…


In this post I write not about advertising, marketing, business or social media. Instead I would like to dedicate this post to the former leader of the NDP party – Jack Layton. A noble and sincere Canadian whose life was cut short after a long battle with cancer. While I never met Mr.Layton, I have followed his career since my early days of university and recently watched his party shock the nation during the recent election.

Upon his death Jack Layton left Canada with one final message in the form of a letter. After addressing different groups of Canadians; he finishes:

” My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

From this piece comes a message of Love, Hope and Optimism. Upon reading Jacks letter and listening to him speak it has become clear to me that Jack believed that hope and optimism should be at the heart of politics in our Country. Political views aside –  this message is something that we can each take and embrace as we go through our own daily lives. We need to spend more time doing things we love, while having hope for those who ache and being optimistic about our future in a world closer together.

In University, I once had a debate with a friend and told her that I was a realist and not an optimist. She went on to correct me by telling me that a part of being optimistic is understanding the problem well while being cynical enough to never be considered a fool. This way, if things don’t necessarily go as planned – You cannot be disappointed.

When I read the letter left by Jack Layton this conversation from 4 years ago resurfaced in memory. In that moment I realized that optimism is really built on our perception of others and our own ability to overcome obstacles. An optimist wants to know the facts of every situation before creating their own opinion. Thus, if anything, an optimist is a realist.Whether the facts are good, bad or even ugly. They want to hear them so they can arm themselves and those around them with the knowledge they need to overcome the obstacles that lie ahead.

Yet that word obstacles is not how an optimist would describe it. Instead, they don’t see obstacles, walls or even barriers. Instead they see possibility. The possibilities of reaching goals and dreams. The possibility of making things right. The possibility of being a better person. The possibility of changing the world.

I leave you with a paragraph Jack Layton directed to young Canadians everywhere. I believe that if my generation no matter their political views can strive to do better and chase the dreams that Jack describes below – That our future will be brighter than our past. And most importantly, we’ll have an optimistic outlook on the possibilities that lie ahead. Farewell Jack.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.