Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): Multiple Contributions & Multi-Production Of New Knowledge

Jack Layton: A Political Knowledge Mobilizer

This week Canada and the world lost a great, inspirational leader and politician – Jack Layton. There has been extensive media coverage and many other bloggers and tweeters used social media to convey their sense of loss.  Even those who never voted for this personable and inclusive politician were moved by Jack’s human touch and vision of how polite a political and human arena can be – reminding us of the common human roots of the world of politics in the word polite. That was Jack Layton – a polite, courageous and truly likeable politician and human being.

Right to the end as cancer was cutting short the work of someone I consider a political knowledge mobilizer, Jack Layton’s message of love, hope and optimism – in his letter written just two days before his death – resonates with those who understand our human connectedness throughout the world. Jack’s message is not just for Canadians – but for everyone on this planet.

I am fortunate to have had a very small but personal connection to Jack Layton. Several years ago during one of his early poltical campaign trails, Jack and his equally inclusive wife (and now courageous widow) Olivia Chow stopped by to kick off a season-opener of a gay softball team I was part of – introducing themselves to each of us with more than just the usual political handshaking. Coincidentally, the next day Jack was a passenger on the Ottawa flight I was working as an Air Canada flight attendant and actually recognized me from the day before. What is even more interesting is that my flight schedule seemed to coincide with his campaign stops as I met him again in the elevator of my Vancouver layover hotel that evening!  A couple of days later when he walked into the gym of the Edmonton hotel I was staying in and onto the treadmill beside me, I turned to Mr. Layton and jokingly said, “Jack you have to stop stalking me!” We both laughed, and I realized just how much of a genuinely inclusive, humorous and down-to-earth political and knowledge leader he really was.  Jack Layton always took the time to see and share with the ordinary to make things extraordinary. To recognize the value of sharing our knowledge at all levels to make the world a better place.

Following Jack Layton’s inclusive leadership and humanity – do you take a few minutes each day to mobilize knowledge?  If you do, you will discover a great benefit – your own “ordinary” or everyday knowledge will begin to make a difference for other “everyday” people. Little snippets of your own personal knowledge that previously went unnoticed or you feel might not have any benefit will begin to make a difference to others – and begin to change the world – even in some small way. You’ll be more easily satisfied, and happier all around. Rather than focusing on what’s wrong with our world, you’ll find yourself thinking about and more fully aware of how we might create greater social benefit. That is what knowledg mobilization is all about – and that is what Jack Layton’s final message is all about. The world won’t change overnight, but you’ll start to notice the little moments of your own knowledge mobilization can begin to make a difference if they stem from love, hope and optimism.

Jack Layton considered himself just an  “ordinary”  person and politician – but he was truly extraordinary – clearly the reason for such outpouring and grief over his death, and inspiration for the celebration of his life.  Jack saw that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the “ordinary” – with “everyday” knowledge – with the things that we see and experience each day.  What’s important is always sharing, mobilizing this ordinary and everyday knowledge for social benefit.

Life is in itself extraordinary.  We have been blessed with a lifetime of experiences and people and things, yet we are often afraid or too busy to take the time to share our own knowledge with others.  We always seem to be waiting for something “better” to happen or someone else to share “better” knowledge – when we can be knowledge mobilizers ourselves to make the world a better place.

Jack Layton’s letter has been called a manifesto of social democracy – urging each of us to make the world a better place. It truly is all up to you, how you choose to be a knowledge mobilizer – and how you choose to see the world, the people in it, and the knowledge that we’ve all been given.

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