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!!