Thursday, 23 May 2013

I'm Praying for Rob Ford

Things that I think about when I’m doing something else…

Well, I've been doing a lot of something else in the past two weeks (hence the lack of posts) – away in Nashville for a week (you can probably see my accent in my words)  - rushing about getting funerals done, weddings planned and just the usual trying to keep my head above water.

This morning I received a call at the church.  A woman who has not been a member in many years, but used to be.   She called and gave me her bona-fides (in church life that’s usually the names of old friends who are now dead or how great it was when people were forced to go to church)   and then she asked me what I thought about Rob Ford.

I said, “Who?”
  (it was worth a try)

"Well, I was thinking about coming to church and I want to know what you think about Rob Ford."

It was hard to figure out what she wanted to hear… being a minister, I try only to tell people what they want to hear.  Much like Jesus, I’m all for going along to getting along and saying whatever is required to bring out the big bucks.  (wait, that's not Jesus… that’s a hooker).

As I was about to answer, she solved my dilemma by jumping right in:  "I think that it’s terrible what they are doing to him.  It’s bullying pure and simple, they are embarrassing him publicly and there’s no proof of anything and they even made the Catholic School Board fire him as a coach!"

“Well, Ma’m,” I said (still got that Nashville thing going)… “I agree that he’s not being well treated, but I think that he’s had a lot to do with his creating this environment”
I then went through a few points:  
    (numbered hear for easy reference when I'm in court defending against libel and slander)

1. When being sworn in as Mayor he invited Don Cherry to speak and Don made sure to make all of us left wing pinko bike riders feel like losers, as our new Mayor smiled and laughed.   He didn't take my lunch money, but the Mayor and his friend sure did push my bike to the ground and laugh at me.

2. Our Mayor and his brother regularly excoriate their political opponents on their public radio show on Sunday afternoons. Even threatening to “out” those who vote against the Mayor on City Council.  That sure sounds like bullying.

3. In the first year of Mr. Ford's Mayoralty, I was constantly hearing about “Ford Nation” and how I would oppose this juggernaut at my own peril.  Sure felt like bullying to me.

4. The on-going battle with the Toronto Star is embarrassing for all involved, but it was our Mayor who refused to speak with any journalists representing the city’s biggest newspaper, before this all become a dissonant opera. 

5. I’m not so sure that “They” forced the Catholic School Board to do anything.  If the TDCSB could be so easily forced, they’d have a float in next month’s Pride Parade.  As I watched this story unfold over the past few months, it seems to me that Board thanked Mr. Ford for his support in the past, but desired to end the relationship after his voluntary Sun media interview in which he referred to the youth at the school as gang-bangers and the neighborhood as "at risk" – the operating narrative has been that Rob Ford has been this school’s savior.  A great many teachers, parents and a principal who arrived in recent years, take issue with his depiction of the students and neighbourhood and are somewhat disenfranchised with his taking sole credit for the positive changes at the school.

All of that said…  I also told my phone friend that we prayed for our Mayor, Rob Ford, on Sunday at Jubilee.  We prayed because we know that he’s hurting.   If there is no video, it must hurt terribly to be so persecuted and slandered.  If there is a video, something must hurt terribly that crack cocaine is a relief or worth “trying”.   We prayed for our Mayor because friends need friends to step up from time time; we prayed for Rob Ford because Jesus said that we should pray for our enemies.  We prayed for an end to this painful, tragic circus… and I’ll bet that Rob makes that same prayer every day as he tries to fall asleep and every morning when we awakens and realizes that the nightmare is real.

Remember when that bully in grade school picked on you?  How much you hated what she said about you, or how he laughed at your attempts to fit in…. or those brown oxfords kicking into your ribs again and again while you tried to cover yourself from his blows and maintain some dignity… (that might be my special memory).  These were the people that we hoped and prayed would get their comeuppance -  we imagined someone coming along who was bigger and kinder and would pound them into the ground; some of us sent away to Charles Atlas to learn how to build our bodies up so that we could be bigger and kinder and pound our tormentor into the ground…  
And then one day it happened:
Someone bigger came along and the bully was vanquished…. Humiliated… his or her tears were sweet water to the garden of your self-esteem.   
Or was it all rather hollow and meaningless?
I won’t pretend that I don’t smile when a bully gets knocked down.  I do… but I also remember the incredible lack of "nothing" when my childhood bullies were put in their place.  There was no real change at school... my arms were still skinny; my skin very pale; and my jokes way too hip for the room.  Pretty soon another Bully came along. 
The one time that I beat up a Bully, I remember how foolishly futile it all felt.  I kept punching and he kept falling... but he wouldn't stay down!  He'd get back up, sneer... and I'd punch him down again.  It was as if he didn't seem to understand that I'd won... and it was his job to go away.  That's the problem with the Bully Game it never seems to end. 

I do believe that our Mayor, Rob Ford, has been instrumental in creating an environment and context for bullying.  He has lead by example and the chickens have come home to roost… and there is a small part of me that smiles every time I see the brown oxford shoes of media scrutiny kick him in the ribs… but I also know from experience that the joy is hollow and the victory produces nothing of value… it defeats the opponent, but never changes the game.    I need another game... a better game.

So, I’m praying for Rob Ford – that he find peace, wholeness and opportunity... if only the opportunity to leave (with or without dignity).  I'm praying for Rob Ford because I don't know what else to do.  I'm praying for Rob Ford 'cause Jesus told me to, and his ideas tend to be good ones.

But, I'm also praying for a better game... this one sucks.

No comments:

Post a Comment