As a society, we have developed the practice of choosing leaders to maintain what we hope will be high-quality efficiency in our workplaces and our communities. The goal of any leader should not only be to always maintain productivity, but to also continuously strive to seek it.

When political leaders utilize social platforms that seek to remove rights from law-abiding  individuals, I must question: how is this efficient or productive?

Last Tuesday, the province of Quebec elected Pauline Marois of the Parti Quebecois as the first female premier in its history. My “fellow Canadian female leadership” hat is tipped to her for such an achievement. However, Ms. Marois’ position on diversity has certainly given me pause for concern, as she has wandered into my professional arena.

Marois balanced her victory on a platform that sought – and could potentially succeed in – removing all religious references and attire from all provincial institutions. This would include turbans, head scarves, and even yarmulkes. Excluded from the list of religious symbols: the crucifix, as one hangs at the National Assembly and has been deemed of historical significance.

I’m a big fan of empathy and the act of envisioning the experience of others.

Imagine this, if you will:

It’s your first day of work with the province of Quebec,where you will answer phone calls from the public at the Attorney General’s office. Upon your arrival, you are greeted by a young man clothed with a turban. He treats you with respect and does everything he can to make sure you feel comfortable on your first day. He even makes it his job to introduce you to the rest of the team. Not once does he ever say anything religious, let alone regarding his own faith.

Does this man’s turban or actions in any way, shape or form:

  • prohibit you from doing your job?
  • prohibit you from freely expressing yourself?
  • place you in any danger?

The answer is no.

Why would a leader such as Pauline Marois seek to oppress personal identities for political gain?

What is the point?

The only point to invoke such laws is to make those who are uncomfortable with difference feel more comfortable.

This is unproductive and inefficient.

Our global history is fraught with examples, teaching us that oppression will only lead us, at best, to short-lived functionality.  There will always be a break in the system caused by the mental strain of resentment. These cracks inevitably carry with them a firestorm of financial loss and extreme emotional damage.

We cannot, however, sit back and only shake our fists at the leaders we have elected to follow.

As constituents of any society we must look at these situations with deep understanding. The more people choose to align themselves with any leader, the louder that leader’s voice becomes.

What does this mean? If you choose to follow, promote, vote for a leader who is actively seeking to deny equal rights to any law-abiding individual, you are choosing to promote oppression.

This is your right. But what will this do for the future of your community? What lesson will younger generations learn from such actions?

Say you were invited to three parties on the same evening. Each party has a very specific set of criteria required to attend it.

With your physical, mental and fiscal well being in mind, which party would you choose?

The party where:

  • You are welcome as you are, but all that is expected of you is that you abide by the law.
  • You are welcome, but only if you alter yourself to be similar to everyone else and, if you don’t, it’s against the law.
  • You are not welcome at all. Just being you is against the law.

I firmly stand for you and your right as an individual to follow whichever leader – and attend whichever party – you feel makes the most sense to your life’s journey.  But you must always recognize the proven dangers when following a leader that seeks to oppress law-abiding citizens.

Leadership on the grounds of oppression will inevitably result in an outcome that contains fear, tension, and distress.

I ask again: how is promoting the oppression of law-abiding constituents’ efficient leadership?

The answer is and will always be: it’s not.

“He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”
-Thomas Paine

about the author - Elaine



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