I grew up listening to CBC Radio. It was on much of the time in our house. When we’d go to our family camp [cottage] we’d position the rabbit ears on the little radio in the kitchen in order to hear Peter Gzowski’s voice. Turning the radio on makes me feel nostalgic and somehow “safe” as a result. In my own home we regularly listen to The Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean on Saturday mornings. I admittedly love that Cate knows Tom Power and Rich Terfry or, “Stir-Fry” as she likes to call him. Though I don’t know Jian Ghomeshi beyond his voice, he like Gzowski, felt like one of my CBC friends, which is why I’ve been somewhat glued to the news this past week.
I’ve read a lot of the commentary that has accompanied Ghomeshi’s firing, the initial public support, the multiple allegations of abuse, the mounting evidence against him and the extreme fallout since. The only thing that I am glad about is that this has ignited a conversation about changing rape culture, while being so sad that it took this.
Because of the nature of my work at The Dale and the faith that informs how I do it, I find myself wondering ‘what next’? What next for Ghomeshi? What next for the women he harmed? What next for the culture that for too long has turned a blind eye to sexual offences? What does restorative justice look like? I journey alongside people in Parkdale who have been either or in some cases both, offender and victim. There is nothing simple about answering the ‘what next’ question in situations that are this painful and complex.
I’m not sure how to answer the questions that have been stirred in me. I do know this has served to solidify my desire to live in community where we can call one another to account. I need people to tell me when I am messing up and help pull me back on to the right track. Of course, this isn’t a fail-safe plan. I can choose to go my own way even with people telling me I should do otherwise. My hope though is that by being surrounded by people choosing to love me (and I them) that I might avoid having to hit the proverbial bottom. Or, if I do go to the depths, that I will have people there to pick me up.
I find myself weeping for the women who have been wounded deeply; for those who have spoken out and for those who haven’t. I wonder where Ghomeshi has retreated to. How is his family? I am still listening to conversations in coffee shops and grocery stores that go much like this: “Those women are gold diggers. What happens behind closed doors is none of my business”. I ask incredulously, “Really”?
Here’s the thing: we cannot live in a bubble. Our actions, whether we or Ghomeshi want to admit it or not, impact others. We need to learn how to be repentant when we hurt one another. Our culture makes it easy to believe that we are only responsible for ourselves, that we deserve to do whatever makes us happy. I would argue that our lives are much more entwined than that. We were created to be in relationship. As author Henri Nouwen once said, “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”.
May we work to truly take care of one another.