“It’s sad, really,” said one radio broadcaster. “This man is deconstructing, literally, in front of all of us, and we’re just laughing.”
Rob Ford, Toronto’s mayor, needs no introduction. He has been called Canada’s drunk uncle. He was caught doing crack cocaine on video this past February; he’s 350 pounds and drinks heavily and talks dirty. And he’s on every radio and television network, telling his story, and the networks are eating it up, because for them, it’s one big laugh.
That’s what the ratings tell them, anyway.
“Forget the Philippines,” they’re saying. “Sure, nine million people might be homeless and hungry, but this guy gets us views (tweet this). Yes, he may be desperately in need of rehab and therapy. He might die from a heart attack while he’s trying to defend himself, even as his personal life falls apart, but the audience is laughing. It’s Comic Gold, baby.”
It’s shameful, is what it is, because Rob Ford isn’t just telling his own sad narrative. He’s revealing ours.
We’re no better than the medievals who would gather in throngs to watch someone get flogged and hanged and then they’d cheer and go out for pints, while someone’s husband, father, son and uncle was cut down from the gallows and buried.
And sure, Rob has brought a lot of this on himself. He’s lacking in integrity, character and ethics. I personally find it hard to like him, especially because he plays the victim card and has made some terrible decisions, but he’s still a person, and what happened to compassion? What happened to empathy and sorrow and righteous anger? What happened?
Rob Ford is in trouble. He needs to get off the air and get into treatment, and the Philippines need to get back on the air so we don’t forget about them, but here is where the real problem lies: everything on the screen has become surreal. We can’t reach in and feel the sweat on Rob’s forehead, we can’t touch the tears on the Filipino children’s faces, so we sit back and say, Pass the Popcorn.
Until our own life self-destructs.
And then we realize, none of it was a joke. This is real, this life, and we are responsible for every human life we come into contact with (tweet this). If we watch Rob humiliating himself on television, we have a responsibility to pray for him. If we see the Philippines robbed of nine million homes, we’d better reach into our wallets and pay because our turn will come, friends.
Our turn will come, in which we’ll need someone to help us.
We belong to each other, says Mother Teresa. That means, all of us–even the Rob Fords of the world–and if that’s the case, I don’t want to see him humiliated in public. I want to see him helped, in private, so he might become a better mayor, a better father, a better husband, a believer.
Let’s not be party to the ambush. Let’s stand up for each other. For the least of these, be it Rob Ford or a nation of hurting people.
Because it’s not just a person we’re helping.
37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25)