When Rob Ford hastily confessed to having used crack cocaine, my first reaction was one of hope. I hoped that maybe, just maybe, he was ready to acknowledge what has been publicly evident for some time: he needs help. As soon as he walked out to greet the media scrum for the big press conference my heart sank. I could tell immediately that he was going to get right back to his office.
I know a lot of people who struggle with substance addiction. I don’t know anyone who admits the problem without also acknowledging that at some point it begins to unravel relationships in their lives. Of course everyone’s situation is unique, and Rob’s is indeed that: he is impacting an entire city. True, many don’t believe his behaviour impedes his ability to get the job done. But no matter what side you take, this story is leaving an indelible mark.
I find myself feeling incredibly sad. Sad for a man I don’t know personally, who even with just a glance appears unwell. Sad for a city rocked by scandal that has gone international. I tried to watch all of the late-night commentary on this and found myself turning it off, feeling embarrassed for what I call MY city: the city I was born and raised in; the city I settled in with my husband; the city we raise our daughter in; the city I work for; the city I love.
I didn’t vote for Rob Ford. I don’t support his politics. I do pray for him.
I pray that he will come to understand the impact his actions have on himself, his family and this city. I pray that he will begin the steps of recovery. I pray that he will fully acknowledge not just that he smoked crack once (maybe a year ago) but that he has lied about it ever since. Until he does, it seems that he will live under the weight of all the indiscretion. Whether he believes it or not, this will impact how he does his job and yes, his constituents.
As author Henri Nouwen once said, “In the Christian life the distinction between the private life (just for me!) and a public life (for the others) does not exist. For the Christian, even the most hidden fantasies, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions are a service or a disservice to the community. I can never say, ‘What I think, feel or do in my private time is nobody else’s business’. The mental and spiritual health of a community depends largely on the way its members live their most personal lives as a service to their fellow human beings”.
Is this easy? Absolutely not. Do I fail? All the time. Is it worth holding one another, including Rob Ford, accountable?
I think the answer is yes.