Kitchen table talk

The 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan believed that your home is where the strongest source of political opinion originates. One of Reagan’s more famous quotes put it quite clearly, “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.”

Part of developing into the person we are starts with the environment we’re exposed to. As we go through life we learn and develop every day. A large part of our life education is often influenced by the examples and attitudes we see in those closest to us. If compassion for others is a strong belief that exists in a family home, it is more likely that the children growing up in that home will be compassionate.

Unfortunately not all education is a positive to a person’s development. If the environment a person is exposed to is one of self entitlement and nepotism they would be less likely to consider these shortcomings as character flaws.

Nepotism is the act of using favour to give unfair advantage to friends and relatives in business, sports, politics and other activities. The term comes from the Italian word “nepotismo,” which is based on the Latin word nepos meaning “nephew.” The most extreme examples we see today happen in political settings where decisions need to be made where people can ascend to levels beyond their capabilities, training or education. Those decisions may need to be made with impartiality.

An environment charged with nepotism is something Albertans are increasingly being subjected to from the current Alberta government. Political appointments in this government, and, even some local agencies, inevitably come down to how you’re connected to the governing body rather than using legitimate, impartial qualifications. There can be no other explanation for the appointment of Tzeporah Berman in 2016 when she was named Co-Chair of the Oil Sands Advisory Group. Berman, for years prior to her appointment, voiced her desire to have the Oilsands completely shut down. Yet in a decision that defied logic, she was somehow considered an asset to the board by the Premier.  

Examples of nepotism can be obvious like some of the Alberta government’s appointments but they can also be more subtle, neither are productive or in the public’s best interest. In some ways the normalization of nepotism is learned at the dinner table depending on who is sitting at that table.

The desire to change an environment of nepotism and entitlement is something we can begin at the table as well. Albertans deserve to know the political values of the people seeking power and those already in office.

Ronald Reagan understood that the raw material for political values come from the home environment. The next time you sit down at the table it’s important to remember the effect the discussion has on the others at the table and ask yourself what values you’d like the others at the table to come away with. 

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