Civic Lee Speaking, Vancouver Sun, May 17, 2012
Where was this Sam Sullivan when he was mayor?
On Wednesday night I saw a side of Sullivan I’ve never seen before.
Humble, awed, inspired and inspiring, well-spoken and at times at a true loss for words. This was the Sam Sullivan I saw at his latest Public Salon, an event organized through his Global Civic Policy Society where he gave the floor over to people who have inspired him to be a better human being.
People like marine naturalist Jim Bolger, who in the short seven minutes allotted to him gave back hope for our troubled oceans. Rather than spend his time piling on complaints about the way we treat “Planet Ocean”, as he calls it, Bolger left the audience of 600 with an understanding that we can have hope for something so poorly understood that we are finding new species at a rate of 1,600 a year.
Chip Wilson didn’t offer us discounts to his Lululemon athletic wear. Instead, he offered us an understanding why single-minded super-achievers need to change when ultimately faced with failure. “What got you there in the beginning won’t get you there in the end,” he said. If what you have been doing isn’t working any more, include others and open your minds. Amen to that.
And doctors Unjali Malhotra and Hal Gunn bravely showed me why I cannot let my health be dictated by celebrities with bogus cures or doctors who have lost faith in the system. “We don’t have a health care system, we have an illness treatment system,” Gunn said. “The best way we can contribute to the world is through being happy and whole ourselves.”
Jas Johal, in talking about his travels as a foreign correspondent for CTV and the rise of China and India as global economic powers, showed his humble Williams Lake roots by holding up a small piece of a chandelier he nicked from Muammar Gaddafi’s palace in Tripoli, Libya. It pungently brought back memories of my standing in wonder in the middle of Tikrit, Iraq, Saddam Hussein’s birthplace in the middle of a war, thinking of my parents and how they had inspired me.
I won’t pretend to understand Carolyn Chan and Clancy Dennehy’s weird Butoh dance that took the Playhouse stage, but I’ll tell you I appreciate that it took me out of my depth and caused me to think what else I am missing because I don’t see dance that way.
These were the things that Sullivan offered to me at his Public Salon, an event his friend, thinker and educator the late Abraham Rogatnick warned historically could be dangerous because they offered revolutionary ideas.
Many things came out of that evening of lectures, not the least was an understanding on my part that organized politics nearly wrecked Sullivan and that he has much more to offer now that he’ll never put his name on a ballot sheet again.
Read original article here.