Be the change you want to see in the world
Celebrate those who inspire us by following their lead by Ron Johnson
It’s not hard to find inspirational people in the city of Toronto. In my position as Post City’s editor for 15 years, I see it every day. It’s part of what makes this city one of the most livable in the world. Despite the size, the hustle and most assuredly the bustle, there is still a strong sense of community spirit.
One weekend afternoon, it became known to my little corner of the world that there was a rally planned with nationalist, white supremacist overtones. It was billed as an anti-Trudeau, anti-immigration rally, but it was more than obvious what was going to happen.
This was something new in the neighbourhood, at least as far as I knew, and although I was confident that people would show up to take a stand against racism, these things can go sideways fairly quickly.
On the day of the event, I rode my bicycle down to the local park. I heard chants and saw the signs from a distance, but wasn’t sure what side was out in force. But seconds later, I saw the city’s incredible diversity represented in the crowd and the signs that welcomed refugees and celebrated peace.
As is usually the case, when the evil forces realized their hatred would be opposed, they stayed home — likely, to spin sad little webs on their computers.
For the next hour or so, the crowd listened to speakers talk about how happy they were to see the crowd, how they would continue to come out en masse as long and as often as it took.
Then, we sang songs, ate samosas and drank hot, delicious coffee and stood in the sun on a cold fall day.
I couldn’t have been more proud and inspired by my fellow neighbours and Torontonians.
Sadly, as nationalism continues to percolate south of the border and around the world, hateful people once relegated to the margins have crept out of their parents’ basements to try to rain on our hopeful parades.
Signs on telephone poles, anonymous comments on the Internet, even rallies in public places are now happening in our neighbourhoods across the city.
It doesn’t take much to oppose. That first step is always the hardest, but it also feels good to do the right thing.
This issue, we celebrate women in Toronto who inspire us. I was inspired by the women who spoke passionately about opposing hate at our rally and by everyone who showed up in support. And by showing up, hopefully we in turn inspire others to stand up for antiracism and peace — principles in which we all so obviously believe.
Let’s follow Gandhi’s lead and be the change we want to see in the world. It’s the only way.
The rally for peace in my neighbourhood