observations and opinion
November 3, 2014
When I sat down at the coffee shop Saturday morning at 10 a.m. the question hung in my head “what do I have to say about the Ghomeshi thing that’s worth reading?” Not much, I thought, but that’s never stopped me from writing before. So two hours later I hit “publish” and bolted out the door to go get my daughter and her friend, to shuttle them from play rehearsal to a volunteer shift at the food bank.
In the almost-48 hours since I hit “publish”, this little blog has been “viewed” around 6,600 times. Most of that traffic has been Jian-related, of course. I have been viewed, liked, followed, retweeted, re-retweeted, re-re-re-retweeded and received comments (pro and a few con).
In this brief moment, when a lot of people have become aware of this page – and before they forget about it – it seems incumbent upon me to do something useful. You’re not coming back, I know it, so while I’ve got your attention let me ask you something: What are you going to do with your righteous anger about Jian Ghomeshi? Vent, read, click?
How about this:
SUPPORT A LOCAL WOMEN’S SHELTER
Your “support” may mean a few dollars, or a few tins of food, or a prayer if that’s all you’ve got. Hell, retweet this if that’s all you can do today.
On a hot summer night when I was eight years old, my mum and I escaped (that is the word) our very unhappy home and disappeared for a while. Where we went was an old house, run by an old woman. The shelter was tucked away near a park with an old mansion called Dundurn Castle. The shelter had saggy beds,no TV set and the worst food I ever ate. The tinned milk, I remember particularly, was vile in my tea. But I was eight and that meant getting outside as early as possible, going to the park and living there until dusk. I took the 25 cent tour of the Castle so many times I could give it (and I did, chiming in with facts when the tour guides would forget something).
That summer seemed to last forever and it was good: nobody was yelling, angry or afraid. The only bad moment for me, other than the meals, was when my older brother tried to visit the shelter. The old lady wouldn’t let him in. “No men” she said. My brother was 20, which meant he was a man, which meant he was not crossing that threshold. My mum was livid, but the rules were the rules. They talked out on the landing.
This morning, this afternoon and tonight a woman will pack a bag, and her kids if she has them, and seek refuge from a man she loved (and may still love) who is hurting her. Will she find shelter? It is depressing to think that we need places for women to hide from their men, places which are themselves hidden. It is depressing, but it is true. So the question is, what are we going to do about it? We can be angry, we can be articulate, we can be passionate and rise to shake our fists at sadists, rapists, harassers and wife beaters. We can do all of that.
But maybe we can also give a little of what we’ve got – a dollar or two -to make someone’s pain a little less terrible. To give them a place where nobody is yelling, angry or afraid.
Hopefully, this follow-up turns all that reader attention into something useful. It has certainly given me ideas on how to attract an audience. I’m thinking of calling my next blog “Jian Ghomeshi and the Underappreciated Qualities of Hemp-based Clothing.” It will be a hit, I am sure.
Note: shelters are better than they were in the past: happier, brighter, more secure and the food is better too, I am told.
If you don’t know a shelter to support, choose the one where I stayed as a boy: Inasmuch, in Hamilton Ontario.
They’re at a different location but still do the same urgent work, 365 days a year.