We are all family

By Pat Watson Wednesday April 03 2013 in Opinion
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Another Easter has come and gone, and if you are a religiously observant person you might have spent the previous 40 days before Easter weekend being mindful to give up some unhealthy behaviour or vice as a tribute to the life of Jesus Christ, who died for the sins of mankind.


Giving up unhealthy behaviour, and following more wholesome practices are the standards at this time of year.


With children, it is about the fun of hunting for Easter eggs. If your childhood was in the Caribbean, then it was about eating bun and cheese, a reflection of the adopted practice of not eating meat during the high Easter holidays – meat consumption being symbolic of eating the very flesh of Christ. Fish, yes, all other, no.


But like the other annual high holidays of Christmas and Thanksgiving, Easter is not only a religious event, but a family event as well.


These are the times when we make an extra attempt to be with those we love (and even those we don’t necessarily get along well with) because they are family.


The family is the most fundamental of social structures, and for better or worse it is where we all begin to form our understanding of life and who each of us is.


One of the difficulties that many immigrants face is becoming disconnected from family in the transition from homeland to new land. We are here, there and everywhere, and we are rarely together as a whole unit except for weddings and funerals, occasions that can be quite emotionally charged, whether with joy or grief.


Religious holidays, therefore, are those special times for families to gather together and just be one; sharing the same history, the same familiar stories, and to take pride in being part of something substantial that is bigger than oneself.


We often hear that the path to true success for people of the African Diaspora is for us to unite and to support one another as a united mass. It is a very poetic notion, but in reality a far off dream. The last time any semblance of unity among Black people presented itself occurred during the 1950s and 60s in the wave of the American civil rights movement. Real unity would take a critical mass focused on a matter that feels to everyone as if it were a vested interest, as the civil rights movement was.


Apparently, the number shooting deaths of youth in our community is not it. Not yet.


Yet, if we begin to consider that at our very genetic level, we are one family, we may begin to experience a new relationship with our community. We need an infusion of caring within each of us, in the same way that we care for our close family members. This is not an easy task; it requires choosing daily and consciously to hold firmly to a principle of family first; to see each child in this community as one’s own, and therefore to not turn a blind eye to actions that are harmful to that child and to the community of families as a whole. It means having the courage to provide guidance where it is needed and to allow any guidance to be firmly grounded in love, like the love for family, and with a desire for mutual wellbeing that each of us wishes for our family.


There could be no better way to show respect for the actions of one man that still resonate more than two millennia later, and whose ultimate sacrifice we celebrate each year at this time.



A note on a city showing empathy…


The question has now been raised publicly regarding whether Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is suffering from substance abuse. Like the ebb and flow of the tide, a few days will pass when there is little said until some news outlet – and when it comes to Ford, that’s usually The Toronto Star – presents us with some new revelation.


The public response has been humane for the most part, that if indeed this is a case of substance abuse, the man and his family would benefit from his getting appropriate help to overcome this crisis. In the not too distant past, individuals experiencing mental ill health received little sympathy. In this sense, the exposure Ford is enduring, whether allegations are found to be true or not, can lead to a general elevation of the way we all respond to the troubling predicament of substance abuse.


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