I don’t think I need to tell you who Rob Ford is. I think at this point, if you have an internet connection and live in the developed world, you know who he is. Jay Leno knows who he is. David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Howard Stern… they ALL know who Rob Ford is. Two Saturdays ago, I went to a Dixie Chicks concert in Hamilton where they dedicated their song ‘Sin Wagon’ to Rob Ford. Even country singers from Texas know who he is and what he’s done.
As I’m sure you know, he’s now admitted to smoking crack, though it was probably in one of his drunken stupors, so, you know, it’s ok. I also vaguely remember something about some death threats, some really really inappropriate things being said, and a bunch of, for lack of a better description, outlandish temper tantrums.
As I scroll through my Facebook feed, at times all I see is posts about Rob Ford. Articles, tweets, What Does The Fox Say parodies done by This Hour Has 22 Minutes (I’m not going to link it… if you want to torture yourself, look it up yourself; it’s ridiculous. I only watched because I’d already decided to write this post.), and remix videos basically of him admitting he’s smoked crack over and over again plague my feeds. Ford and his brother, Doug even managed to score themselves a TV show on Sun News called Ford Nation. (Don’t get me started on Sun News — that could be a post in and of itself.) Thankfully, this surely ridiculous show was deemed to be a money pit for Sun News, and they canned it after only one episode because despite getting excellent ratings, it was a drain of resources they just didn’t have. (http://www.torontolife.com/informer/toronto-politics/2013/11/19/sun-news-cancels-doug-and-rob-fords-tv-show-ford-nation-after-only-one-broadcast/)
Now, please hear me out — I am fully aware that I have the option to ignore this stuff, keep scrolling past it, or even hide the stories or the people themselves. Most of the time, I do. I have weighed in on a few posts here and there, and I even posted twice of my own accord (once to Tweet the Dixie Chicks story from the concert cuz it was FUNNY!), but for the most part I just could not care less about the fact that the guy has messed up his life so badly.
But being in the public service, he hasn’t just messed up his own life. He’s the Mayor of Toronto. He’s been making decisions, financial and otherwise, while berating and threatening others, being completely inappropriate, and smoking illicit substances while in a drunken stupor.
Another disclaimer: I’m not a proponent of those in service to others being held to a higher standard than those who are not, but it happens. As a teacher, I sat through many, MANY lectures in teacher’s college about how the things we do outside of the classroom reflect back on us IN the classroom. Essentially, if my students could find pictures and videos of me in a drunken stupor smoking crack, my ability to effectively execute my job would very much be called into question. It’s for that reason that I’m careful about what I say in public, as well as what I post on the internet. Further, I personally have nothing to hide… which is a bit different in this case, as Rob Ford certainly had things that he probably wishes would have stayed hidden (like saying this after City Council stripped him of his power earlier this week: “If you think American-style politics is nasty, you guys have just attacked Kuwait,” Ford said. “This is going to be outright war in the next election.”), (http://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2013/11/18/rob_ford_stripped_of_power_as_mayor_by_toronto_council.html) but my point remains.
So while I’m not a fan of this double standard for those in the public eye, I can’t deny that it exists. I mean… a look at the train wreck that Miley Cyrus was for a bit there will tell you that. If I rode around naked on a wrecking ball and licked a sledge hammer after twerking against someone, no one would care… except possibly my Mother and my closest friends, who would care out of genuine concern for me, not moth-to-flame curiosity.
I saw today that Ford’s been stripped of most of his duties by a Toronto City Council vote and that it’s been given to the Deputy Mayor. I mean, it’s about time… but it got me thinking about why we’re all SO interested in his life. It’s been suggested (in the comments on Facebook where the article I’m citing was posted) that we’re so interested in Rob Ford’s foibles that we’ve missed a multi-billion dollar federal scandal due to “Ford Focus.”
But what has really had me thinking… is… what is my responsibility as a Christian in all of this? I can hardly imagine it’s to keep reading, intrigued by the train wreck of it all…. but since I can’t seem to escape it, how do I respond? I chose my words carefully here, as there’s a difference between responding and reacting.
My initial reaction is to demand that the people of Toronto open their eyes and demand his resignation. He’s messed up significantly, after all. Why not? My initial reaction is to scoff in disbelief at how far a man can let himself slide. My initial reaction when I see all of this media attention he’s getting is to write and share posts, Tweets, and videos that blast, mock, and berate him for his stupidity and pompous arrogance.
But an article published on CBC today kind of caught me — it was the title that got me, I think. “Rob Ford says he’s quit drinking, has had ‘come-to-Jesus’ moment.” I read it, and while there isn’t any mention of Jesus other than in this quote…
“If you don’t see a difference in me in five months, then I’ll eat my words,” he said. “I’ve had a come-to-Jesus moment if you want to call it that. I’ve let my dad down, I know he’s upstairs watching this.”
…. it hit me. Would Jesus berate and mock Rob Ford? Would Jesus demand Rob Ford’s resignation? It sounds awfully cliché for me to have a WWJD moment in all of this… but it’s what’s happened. I imagine Jesus would extend love and grace.
So while my reaction is to berate, mock, etc…. I choose to respond differently. My response is to pray for him. My response is to hope that when he says he’s quit drinking, quit doing drugs, starting to eat healthy, and working out daily…. he means it. I choose to respond with grace in the refusal to cross-post the articles, tweets, and videos that mock him…. because I think I’m called to something higher than my gut reactions.