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Out bike riding the other day, I came upon this mural featuring the final words of the Honourable Jack Layton’s letter to Canadians, written just hours before the leader of the New Democratic Party and Official Opposition passed away of cancer last summer. The mural wraps around part of a Toronto playground tucked away in a quiet neighbourhood not far from the bustle of Queen Street West and Ossington Avenue.
The mural’s colourful figures – each tagged with the name of what is presumably a student at the grade school – are simple and playful. Recalling artist Keith Haring’s style of painting, the bold, active figures convey a sense of unity, embodying the loving, hopeful and optimistic spirit that Layton called for in his letter:
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
Jack Layton’s final words are words to live by and continue to inspire all Canadians today. When I saw this mural, I almost walked by without noticing the quote, but when I recognized it, I sat down and just paused, soaking in the vision of this community of children full of love, hope and optimism, working and playing together to create a better Canada and a better world.
And I wanted to cry.
Because I do believe that’s possible. And the act of filling a public playground with such an optimistic quote truly was inspiring.