Rob Ford is More Than a Train Wreck – He’s a Human Being
Since his admission that he had lied about not smoking crack cocaine last Tuesday, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been at the centre of an international storm of controversy, commentary, accusation and ridicule. In Canada, it has eclipsed the Senate Expense Scandal and pretty much any announcement by both the federal and various provincial governments.
Most of us have weighed in on the issue especially since the release of another video showing the Mayor seemingly drunk and out of control.
Some of us have criticized him for his behaviour and his duplicity; some of us have rushed to support him, distorting and massaging facts to mitigate what he’s done. Others mock him and some are now criticizing the media for their reporting or their commentary or their bias or whatever it is they feel angst over.
It’s the flavour of the day on social media and like so many issues, the humanity of it somehow gets lost in the rhetoric.
Whatever else he may or may not be; whatever he may have or have not done – Rob Ford is a fellow human being and he’s in crisis. He hasn’t fully admitted it to himself yet. Like many in similar personal situations he’s still in denial as evidenced by his Tuesday press conference but while the rest of us comment and bicker about him, he is a human being who is unraveling in front of us.
Some blame the media for pursuing the story but that’s like blaming the person who reports the crime rather than the one who committed it. It is the job of the media to report on stories like this; especially when they concern our elected officials. It’s how we protect our democracy from those who would undermine it. When they don’t do their job – we have a problem as was seen last year during the American Presidential Election when most of the media refused to cover the revelations related to Benghazi.
The so-called Ford-Nation, the Mayor’s core support base are defending him and demanding he be allowed to finish his term in office. They dismiss his actions as trivial when compared to what he has accomplished while those who want the Mayor gone dismiss his accomplishments to focus only on his transgressions.
Too many people have lined up to take sides about the seriousness of his offenses without regard for the fact that he is in a downward spiral. Even his own mother stated that he should not resign and that all he needed to do was smarten up and lose some weight. Denial isn’t restricted to only the person in crisis.
He shouldn’t resign? God in Heaven! If ever there was someone who should resign, if for no other reason than to save his life, Rob Ford is it.
He doesn’t need a few weeks in rehab; he needs serious counseling and help. It’s not because he’s stupid although he seems to have done some seriously stupid things nor is it because he is immoral although his admission of smoking crack is an admission of illegality. I believe him when he talks about his love of the city and his desire to make it a better place but he’s not only failing his city now – he’s failing himself.
Rob Ford is close to his family and it is clear that where he is right now is causing them concern and pain. He has small children who are at risk of losing the father they knew and love. Even the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart has recognized that this situation has gone beyond a joke;
“Mayor Ford’s a lot of fun to ridicule but my guess is, not a lot of fun to eulogize and that’s where this thing is headed. . .Please go to rehab.”
Those who think this is a political right vs. left issue are wrong nor is it an issue legalities anymore. We’re well-past that now.
This is a human issue and there is no room for partisanship. Enabling Rob Ford’s continuing descent to self-destruction which is basically all his supporters do will virtually guarantee that his life continues to be put at risk. Simply throwing him under the bus as those who oppose his politics seem to be intent on doing accomplishes pretty much the same thing.
It’s time for everyone concerned: the Ford Nation, city council, the Premier, the media, his family and closest friends to realize that there is a need for intervention. We can’t all intervene but we can back off. Supporters of Rob Ford can stop enabling his substance abuse by trivializing it. His critics can stop trying to wring every drop of blood out of each gory detail.
And those who mock and ridicule him can simply give thanks that there but for the grace of God go they.
It has become all too prevalent to trample the humanity of others in this Brave New World we’re creating for ourselves. Political opponents and their supporters are dehumanized and turned into demagogues or demons and we can no longer discuss any issue without criticism, anger or accusation. When the inevitable tragedy happens like the suicide of another young girl because of online bullying – we all cluck our teeth and wonder what has happened to our society. We offer up a few words of sympathy and go right back to teaching our children how to bully others.
Rob Ford is very much the author of his own misfortune. Nobody forced him to abuse alcohol, nobody forced him to smoke crack or to lie about it but that doesn’t mean that the rest of us should overlook the fact that he is a human being in trouble and use him to entertain ourselves or merely to prove a point.
There are very few of us who are qualified to judge him either. Too many of us take delight in the misfortunes of others or rush to overlook the sins of those we support but in the end, both sides accomplish the same thing. They distort the truth and dehumanize the individual.
Like all those we castigate day after day, Rob Ford is more than the Mayor of Toronto. He is a father, a brother and a son. He is an uncle and a friend and colleague.
We don’t have to overlook what he has done nor do we have to turn a blind eye to whatever future consequences his actions might bring. There will be time enough for that some other day but that day isn’t today. Instead of waiting for the eulogy, a little empathy for the man and his family now would go a long way.
It might also remind us that all those others we vilify; the lefties, the cons, welfare recipients, unions, environmentalists, Muslims, Christians, gays and countless others are really nothing more than human beings just like Rob Ford and maybe we could afford them a little more respect and common decency in the future too.
I believe it is possible to disagree with each other; to passionately debate and deal with issues without having to manipulate the truth or denigrate and dehumanize our fellow citizens.
I believe we would be a more successful society if more people started to remember that again instead of acting like trolls on a rampage.
© 2013 Maggie’s Bear
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