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Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

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Richard Carlson (May 16, 1961 – December 13, 2006) was an American author, psychotherapist, and motivational speaker, who rose to fame with the success of his 1997 book, “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all Small Stuff”.

Carlson gave a lot of good advice about not getting caught up in small problems, petty worries, annoying situations and good old stuff you can buy. He didn’t deny that there are big issues — he even wrote a book called “What About the Big Stuff?”

It seems to me that in the current election a lot of people are “sweating the small stuff.” They focus on stories about receipts and minor slips of the tongue, about leaders’ hair styles or their nasty personalities or their beards. In the end what will matter is whether the next government gets a few big things right. The very biggest – or, if you are a doubter, just one of the biggest, is the question of climate change. Would-be politicians have to get that issue right.

The world’s most important climate talks start in Paris on November 30th. Here in Canada, while the election is on, we should be asking each candidate what position Canada’s new government will take at those talks.climate-change

It seems like a very simple question, but it is really the litmus test for whether a candidate is worth voting for. Anyone who can’t promise that their party will commit to decarbonization by 2050 doesn’t understand the real state of the world and shouldn’t be running. (Either that or the poor fool is in the wrong party and his or her judgement can’t be trusted.)

I am not saying that there aren’t other issues – I have been working on policy issues most of my life and I care passionately about many of them – Canadian democracy, youth employment, education, economic development, pensions, innovation policy, to name a few.

I am saying that we don’t have to figure out every candidate’s position on every issue. We only need to know what their commitments are on a few big issues. If they are not strong and clear about the big stuff, don’t vote for them. Don’t waste your vote. An election isn’t the time to “sweat the small stuff.”

(Apologies to Richard Carlson for borrowing his line.)



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