The News Batters Us With Moral Choices

by Rosemary Gray-Snelgrove

Current events keep the brain and the heart working.

Gadhafi’s death continues to be heralded, though hopefully we’ll have fewer photos and gruesome details.  The shamefulness of being found hiding in a drain pipe, if that’s all true, and being exhibited in a sort of meat locker hurts one’s sense of decency.  Yet, as with Bin Laden, there seemed to be expectations of glee at the fact of a miserable death.  Hooray, Hooray?  Like many others I could only feel dismay at the notion that  we would feel happy about the shameful demise of another human being.

I have no understanding of this throwback to the vengeful French revolutionary crowds roaring approval as the aristocracy goes down to the guillotine.

Listening to interviews with Libyan citizens, many of them thoughtful people, it becomes clear that the experience of long drawn-out suffering at the hands of this man and his cronies had created bitterness and despair that awaited an outlet which was finally allowed to them as his death  as proclaimed.  So I received the signal – forget the judgement on people who’ve been through things about which you have no experience .

But Closer to Home?  Marg Delanhunty’s Widely Broadcast Revenge,

In a similar (but totally different) vein, the swooping down by a caped red-dressed super-woman upon Toronto’s Mayor Ford in the morning  outside his home can be seen as pop culture’s revenge on a year of unpopular leadership.  Unfortunately, I was inclined to feel a little sorry for him – he hasn’t the grace or humour of previous political figures who found themselves at the mercy of Marg’s comic fury.

But I don’t feel too sorry.  We need modest opportunities to laugh and thus vent our anger at this man who has the earmarks of a bully and who is trying to dismantle valuable parts of Toronto.  Keeps the blood-pressure down and stop the muttering and cringing at his follies and foolishness.  Some small version of revenge before he gets voted out, and hopefully in the meantime he won’t do too much harm.

Selling off TCHC Houses

Then there is the City Council approval of selling off the TCHC scattered houses – 700 units housing at least 4 times that number of people.  Revenge (again) on the poor.  Yes, money is needed to repair the thousands of apartment units that are crumbling.  Indeed, this is so much more  a priority than removing the taxes on newly purchased cars or land transfers.  If those taxes have to be re-instated and property taxes rise slightly to provide designated funds for improving public properties (which we, as taxpayers all own) so be it.

How come nobody is arguing for the rights of those taxpayers of decades ago whose taxes paid for the purchases of those TCHC houses because it was clearly understood as a good thing for OUR City??  Taxpayers have not given the same City a go-ahead for selling off these assets to correct
provincial and municipal errors in not allotting funds to maintain our (managed by TCHC) properties.

The moral issue here?  Not the obvious one of recognizing what will be lost for the thousands of tenants who will lose their homes, neighbours, communities, schools and churches: the appalling losses that are very clear and wrong.  There are not good alternatives for these people.  So  whatever can we do, MUST we do, to resist these choices by City officials to destructively interfere in the lives of fellow citizens?

Of course, I’m addressing  a Toronto matter, but bad political decisions keep happening at the federal level (think Crime Bill) and across the country.  So here we get back to the question of what responsibility we have to maintain democracy.  It may fundamentally require the same tactics as standing up to bullies.  Think  Strong, learn how t o Work With Others, Focus and Stand Tall.  Can we collectively do that?

An Admirable and Useful Resource for Learning More

Regarding housing, one of the persistent gaps in our social fabric, I think there has to be a stronger lobby and louder voice than has been developed over the past few decades.  To get there, we have to be better informed and engage in good collective thinking .  One excellent vehicle is Joy Connelly’s social housing blog.  http://openingthewindow.com.   A recent entry, presenting Homesteading as a means of refreshing housing stock and allowing tenants to purchase the houses they’re living in, could – I think – work well with some of the TCHC scattered units.   Read this hopeful piece: http://openingthewindow.com/2011/06/07/the-homesteading-solution/

I know a TCHC house– one of those likely on the selling block – inhabited by five men who are skilled in various trades and willing to work.  They have, by living in decent housing in a mixed-income neighbourhood and supporting each other, managed to stay in recovery from a variety of addictions which had, for a time, wrecked their lives.  If they’re evicted, in the absence of alternatives they’ll likely end up back in the neighbourhoods that encouraged their addictions in the first place.  Could a Homesteading arrangement work for them?  Perhaps.  Is anybody trying to figure out creative alternatives to selling out from under them and making five more people homeless or under-housed?

Enter the discussion!!

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3 Comments

Filed under A Bigger Circle, Rosemary's entries, Uncategorized

3 responses to “The News Batters Us With Moral Choices

  1. Elizabeth Sherk

    “What are we to talk about in church?”–a question that was asked in a gathering to worship God at Danforth Baptist Church two weeks ago on the 16th of October. Be a person of radical faith in Jesus & join the people who are occupying the World’s Wall Streets, was one partial answer to the question. Meditate & sing spiritual songs about the revealed truth that we are all together & each individually bearers of the Glory of God in our homes, our offices, even when we meet together in church…Ephesians Ch. 3 vv. 14 to 21 and I Timothy ch. 1 v. 12 to Ch. 2. What are we supposed to talk about in Church? We are supposed to pray for the likes of Rob Ford and Muhammar Gadafi & suffering Libiyans, and Rick Mercer & Marg Delanhunty ( Mary Walsh), and the five men who may be pushed back into enviornments in which it will be very difficult for them to maintain their recovery & lives of sobriety by the city’s current proposal to sell TCH housing Of course, we cannot pray if we are not doing what our faithful blog writer, Rosemary is doing–reading the news & thinking….

  2. Juanita Rathbun

    I understand the feelings of the Libyans who have suffered serious cruelty and deprivation under Ghadfi’s brutal regime. I understand they feel a sense of pleasure – perhaps it is just relief – that that era is ending and they can now look forward to a more just society where they will be treated more humanely. I personally did not feel any sense of revenge at his ignominious death – just a sense of relief that Ghadafi would not longer be able to terrorize his people. In the end I think he was totally deranged and incapable of making any kind of decision.

  3. Juanita Rathbun

    Regarding the housing situation in Toronto, I again understand that the current mayor, Rob Ford, was swept into office with the promise to CUT all sorts of activities and services in order to balance the budget. I have often thought that the general voting population is quite uninformed – and thus they go to the polls to elect the politician who promises to enact laws that will please them – without regard to the consequences of their proposed actions . The proposal to sell all these houses housing the poor and disadvantages might seem like a good idea to bring much needed revenues into the city coffers. However, when you look at the people who will be displaced, no one has come up with the solution as to where these people will go if forced from their current housing. In fact, evicting these people might cause all sorts of additional problems which may increase the city budget in the long run. So much more creative thought needs to go into the decision to sell the houses just to improve the bottom line. Let’ hope that wiser heads will prevail.

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