Friday, May 31, 2013

it's not over till the fat man quits

Luckily, there's a bit more to good writing, or else I could just send this to my students and lie on the sofa eating chocolates.

What an insane week. Record cold, torrential rains so ferocious that the Don River flooded and the Don Valley Parkway had to be shut down, and then, suddenly yesterday when the rain stopped, record heat. Normal temperature 22 degrees, yesterday more than 30 - sweltering and apocalyptic. 

And yet life in our crazy town goes on. There's a rally at Queen's Park tomorrow at noon to demand Rob Ford's resignation. The man is still there! Most of his staff have quit, and for weeks, he has not answered a single question about his drug use or anything else. And yet not only is he still there, but he's saying he'll run in the next election - apparently still fully supported by his Ford Nation. They say millions would still vote for him. Who are these people? The same, I suppose, who voted in arch-villain Mike Harris - twice. 

And Ottawa scandals deepen. It's painful to watch this disgusting debasement of the Canadian political process, the only good point being that it makes the Conservatives look really, really bad. One "Star" pundit wondered if Stephen Harper would end like Nixon, deluded, isolated, disgraced. One can only hope. Truly, it's as hard to believe that such an unpleasant and unpopular man has run this country for years, as it is that the fat red-faced bully still thinks he's running Toronto. 

And no Jon Stewart for a few weeks, to help me cast a satiric eye on things. He's off for the summer and John Oliver will take over soon. Can't be soon enough, as far as I'm concerned. I watched a documentary on TVO the other night called "My brother the Islamist," truly scary - a young British filmmaker watching his step-brother disappear not just into Islam but into its extreme end. We see the brother's British face with bright blue eyes and bushy beard and hear the bile pouring from his mouth, a violent rejection of the society he grew up in, and then watch another young, similarly disaffected young man, formerly a musician heavily involved with drugs, follow the same path. The film shows what we confront as a society - that lost and angry young men from all over are attracted to the lunatic Muslim fringe, where they are taught how to deliver retribution to the Western society they love to hate. 

I had a kind and beautiful Muslim student last term, who wrote about the prejudice she encounters sometimes because of her headscarf, when, she says, her religion preaches love, tolerance, forgiveness, generosity. Unfortunately, as fundamentalists continue to offer the rewards of community, discipline and purpose to young men, I fear we are doomed to endless jihad, and she to endless prejudice. As my daughter says, we need to find something else for angry young men to do. Yes. But what? 

To counter all this darkness, I gaze at the purposeful face of my grandson, who marched in here with his mother yesterday and proceeded, as usual, to dismantle my house room by room. He wants to see, touch and taste everything, including cat food and leaves. We went to Riverdale Farm and met pigs, cows, chickens, sheep - all mesmerizing when seen live for the first time.

Can we remember a time when everything in the world was so amazingly interesting? If only we could keep that curiosity and eagerness. But then - writers keep it. To write well means to pay attention, just like a one-year old.

And also, not ever generalizing. 

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