Be the change you want to see in the world

Cel­e­brate those who in­spire us by fol­low­ing their lead

Richmond Hill Post - - News - 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


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