Just a thought… I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. [Nelson Mandela]
Yet again yesterday we awoke to news of a tragedy in Toronto. There was the Yonge Street van attack and, of late, escalating violence that I hear about in snippets and tweets. But before I went to bed on Sunday night, the news of the gun attack on the Danforth hit especially close to home – that’s because it was.
When we lived at Bloor and Jarvis, it was a rite of spring to walk over to the Danforth – often to the area of Carrot Common – to take in dinner. We didn’t sit outdoors on the sidewalk anymore; the panhandling got to be too much. But sitting outside on back patios, enjoying open air dining was always such a pleasure. Strolling and gazing through store windows at furniture, ceramics and clothes – always a pleasure.
A hit like this on such a storied and popular stretch of street in Toronto would have seemed almost unthinkable until 2018. Yes, there have been attacks such as that at the Eaton Centre in 2012 (killing two) and the Boxing Day shootout on Yonge that killed Jane Creba in 2006. But this year, as much as this senseless violence hurts, the vague and unclear warnings around the CN Tower and Canada’s Wonderland less than weeks ago kind of put us on notice. This summer would be one we might remember for all of the wrong reasons.
Already I’ve heard from and read of people who don’t want to go on patios or subject themselves to possible danger. To them, I say what so many others have said: Toronto Strong. You are safe in Toronto.
What makes me say that? I know what the heart says: be worried! But here’s something that we need to keep in mind. And thank to you Michael Hainsworth for this tweet yesterday in response to someone who said how frightened they were to go out and enjoy life on the Danforth again.
@hainsworthtv: You are literally THREE TIMES more likely to be killed by a car than a gun in Canada. And even that death rate is only 6 out of every 100,000 of us. We can’t cower in the face of violence. #Danforth
I know that it’s easy to cite statistics. I tell myself when I’m in the midst of turbulence or getting a little nervous on a plane that I am truly travelling one of the safest ways there is. I think of my Dad saying that the pilot and crew want to make it home as badly as we do! But what the brain says and what the heart feels can be two very different things.
So I say this: Toronto will heal again, as it has been in the process of doing since the van attack earlier this year. No one and nothing can prevent one sick person from doing something heinous, whether on a vibrant metropolitan street or during the Changing of the Guard in the nation’s capital.
All we can do is control weapons access as best we can, live our lives, remember the victims and use our sadness to fuel our journey forward. Be ever vigilant, ever tolerant and ever adamant that no one can steal the freedom from fear that life in the city of Toronto has always offered.
Sending love, always,