There are remodels of all sorts in society, sports hero, businessmen, tech gurus but have you ever seen a leader of a nation being a role model? Which prime minister or president can you think of who truly looks at the world with compassion.
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
― Albert Einstein
At such a young age, Justin Trudeau Canada’s new Prime Minister is setting an example for the rest of the world. It is a rare act in the growing refugee saga, which is why media outlets from around the world are covering Canada’s prime minister happily greeting Syrian refugees at Pearson International airport, in Toronto Canada.
It was sure to prompt a reaction across the boarder and that is exactly what is happening. Commentators in the U.S. are drawing comparisons Friday with the angry anti-refugee politics in their own country.
The story of Justin Trudeau greeting refugees at the airport was covered in numerous countries, UAE, Pakistan, UK, India and was also the top story around midday on the New York Times website, along with a video and similar items on Newsweek, the BBC, NBC, Paris Match, and the UK Guardian, Independent and Daily Mail.
What the governments think and their actions are not always inline with what the public wants. Only great leaders are able to listen to those who elected them. A Washington Post piece suggested public attitudes in Canada and the U.S. aren’t actually all that different on refugees. Public in both countries want to resettle the Syrians but the government of Canada lead by the new leader, listened to the people and did just that.
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
― Mother Teresa
Two nations making headlines, Canada being true to what Canadians are all about, is making the right kind of headlines, while in America, Muslims are being used as a political pans to further agenda. If you read stories from these media outlets, One big difference is the political tone — this on a week where the U.S. election debate was dominated by one candidate’s plan to bar all Muslim visitors.
“Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Just Gave U.S. Politicians a Refreshing Lesson in Compassion,” was the headline on the GQ website.
“U.S. politics right now feel like a clown show of ventriloquized garbage bags yelling dangerous nonsense about Muslims and the Second Amendment,” the piece began.
“But just north of the boarder… Trudeau is showing just how far leadership traits like compassion and open-mindedness can go toward endearing yourself to your countrymen. Who would have thought?”
“Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion. When we focus on ourselves, our world contracts as our problems and preoccupations loom large. But when we focus on others, our world expands. Our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection – or compassionate action.”
― Daniel Goleman, Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships
Contrast that with the conversation in the U.S. on Friday.
There were questions at the daily White House press briefing about Donald Trump’s proposed Muslim-visitors ban. A presidential spokesman also fielded media questions about an apparent plan to organize a Qu’ran-burning protest Saturday in front of the White House.
A spokesman for Obama retorted by pointing to a poll that suggests Trump’s plan is opposed by a clear majority of Americans:
“What we are seeing here is a pretty cynical attempt on the part of one Republican politician to capitalize on people’s fears and anxieties,” Josh Earnest said. “And that’s offensive.”
Some left-wing commentators in the U.S. joked that they wished Trudeau might move south and enter politics in their country.
Few headlines were nearly as enthusiastic as the left-wing U.S. blog Daily KOS:
“Prime Minister’s reaction to refugees arriving in Canada will be a highlight in world history.” It suggested this welcoming approach was likelier to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim public.
Other similarly minded commentators made a serious point.
There was a thank-you message on Twitter from actor Mia Farrow. A prominent activist with Black Lives Matter, Shaun King, tweeted:
“Absolutely love the warmth, love, and compassion I see being shown toward weary Syrian refugees in Canada. .WelcomeToCanada is so powerful!”
Another comparison to U.S. politics came from progressive journalist Glenn Greenwald.
He posted a link to a UK Guardian story on Trudeau, and another to a U.S. CNN story with the headline, “(Chris) Christie on refugees: Not even 5-year-old orphans.”
Greenwald tweeted: “Which mentality would you rather represent your country?”
Act of Kindness from Justin Trudeau is now part of the history books and will be printed on our hearts forever.