Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

My Brain Needs to Think   

I ask him a question. Do you want to go downstairs with your sister or stay here with us? My brain needs to think, he says. He stares at me, returns my smile. Is he trying to figure out what he thinks I want him to say? He then looks at the floor, juggles the ball in his hand. He’s been playing soccer in the dining room, aided by his grandfather. He ponders the question as the ball moves from one hand to the other. He then says, my brain says I should go downstairs. What motivates his decision? I don’t know. He’s a three year old. He doesn’t confide his pros and cons analysis.

Makes me wonder though, why aren’t all decisions that simple to make. Or maybe that is the problem. Maybe decisions, particularly bad ones, are too simple to make when only the brain is involved and things like morals, ethics and values − standards a three year old might not have access to yet − are left out of the thinking equation.

This week, a public opinion survey by Transparency International showed that more than one in two people think corruption has worsened over the last two years. Its annual Global Corruption Barometer found 27% of respondents said they had paid a bribe when accessing public services and institutions in the last year. The survey covered more than 100 countries, including Canada. Take a look at the BBC article for yourself.

We think this type of thing only happens in other countries, in other parts of the world. But the rash of political scandals and industry corruption in Canada of late makes me wonder. How many mayors have resigned in Quebec in the last year? And what is going on with all the bribes and under-the-table deals in the construction industry in that province. Then there’s the ongoing senate scandal, uncovering something new every day with the RCMP investigation of Senator Duffy. Even the Prime Minister’s words have changed this week. First he said, and repeated several times, that he knew nothing about his Chief of Staff paying back Duffy’s expenses. This week he’s singing a different tune or singing from a different song sheet, whatever the expression might be. He’s now saying that it was solely his Chief of Staff’s decision to pay Duffy’s expenses. It’s a subtle change, but it implies that he knew about it, something he denied ardently a short few weeks ago. CBC Video.

Years will pass and the three year old will grow up. He will learn how to lie. Did you put the dent in the car? It wasn’t me. I don’t know how it got there. He won’t stop to say, my brain needs to think. He’ll come up with a quick self-preserving answer. He and I will both know he’s lying, but this will pass. We’ll laugh about it when sufficient time passes and he has grown up a little more and feels he can finally come clean about the car.

Along the way, he will learn many things from his family and friends. Most importantly, I hope he will learn the difference between right and wrong, something our politicians didn’t learn along the way or have forgotten in the office of power.

When he stops to let his brain think over a decision, I hope the three year old, as an adult, will include the multi-layers of values, morals and experiences he’s developed in his life. I hope he will be as sweet, as innocent, as giving and as good as he is now at three. I hope he will learn his address too, as I wish Senator Duffy could have before he submitted his expense accounts. And I hope he will learn to tell the truth first and foremost, no matter what his brain or ego tells him to do to protect himself. It’s too late for our Prime Minister to learn this, but thankfully it’s not too late for the three year old.

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