Letter: Ending influence peddling is laudable, but won't fully emancipate us

The Editor,

Re. "Cancel China-sponsored even and come clean about others" (editorial, Opinion, The Tri-City News, July 4) and "West has every right to voice his opinion on China" (Letters, The Tri-City News, July 4).

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I agree that it is time for politics to be done differently and putting an end to foreign and domestic influence peddling — such as that of the Chinese government-sponsored reception at the annual Union of BC Municipalities convention — would be laudable.

But doing so will do little to sway the cynical and disaffected among us towards participation and positive action, nor will it succeed in engaging the youth.

In order to foster a spirit of inclusiveness, cooperation and positivity, a greater difference will be needed. For that difference, we should look to ancient Athens, the progenitor of Western society.

Laying aside what constituted a citizen two and a half thousand years ago, all of Hellas scoffed at the stupidity of Athens and its new political system that was to be run directly by the citizenry. Only a privileged few were capable of directing the affairs of state, insisted the rulers outside the purview of the Athenians. But Athenians had other ideas, and with the technology of writing firmly in hand, they set about changing the course of history, bringing about a golden age that still touches us to this day.

We stand now at the same threshold our Grecian forebears stood, with an educated population and the technological means to organize in large numbers and document proceedings. It was not for nothing that Plato would rather die than be cast out of Athens, for it was the only place in the world where being a citizen truly meant one was emancipated, that one was not a slave.

We in Canada are at one of those special moments in time when cultural and technological advancement may converge to create a great leap forward, to create a new golden age. If we can create social democracy networks — perhaps not unlike the many examples of social networks we currently have online — where we can meaningfully and fully take part in the political process, we can see true emancipation in our time and we can act with courage and certainty, safe in the knowledge that we are not being manipulated by strongmen, big money, polls or corporate interests but, rather, that each of us has a voice and the agency to use it.

Simon Postma, Coquitlam

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