As we enter the holiday season, we are bombarded with the aspirational phrase of “Peace on Earth, goodwill to all men.”
While I truly believe each and everyone of us would embrace the sentiment, the sad reality is there is a definite division between what we see as idyllic and what faces us each day.
We are a community made up of people from every walk of life, diverse backgrounds, conflicting circumstances and challenging futures. We have professionals, tradespeople, service industry providers, students and those who simply wonder whether they will make it through the day.
We have of late been subject to many calamities, not the least of which is COVID-19.
In this year alone, we have seen the ravages of fire, water, smoke and more. Add to this the pandemic, homelessness, addiction issues, a mental-health pandemic and so on. Yet we prevail, despite all of this.
The problem, however, is that we haven’t come out of this unscathed.
For many of us, these last few years have impacted our well-being, our sense of security and that of our families, our vision of a troubled community and our empathy.
Many of us would regard ourselves as being well-intentioned, reasonable, caring individuals. But for some, that has been replaced by frustration, confusion, helplessness and, unfortunately, vindictiveness. We seem to be struggling with the “Goodwill to all men” part.
Most of us will, despite these difficult times, have a joyous holiday season. We will be with family and we will partake in food, drink and other excesses. We will greet the new year with renewed optimism, with renewed vitality.
Yet, sadly, there are some in our community who struggle from minute to minute, who can only think as far as this afternoon and how they might survive the day.
These people are viewed by some as the dregs of our society, a blight on the community. Some feel all they need to do is pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get on with life.
Were it only so easy.
As city council and, by extension, the city, we look for ways to ease things for our less fortunate members of the community. We attempt, with the help of other governments and agencies, to provide shelter, counselling, programs, meals and more.
We attempt to address their needs while being mindful of the needs of the greater community.
It’s a balancing act, but sometimes things topple and we’re faced with trying a new approach.
The point is we won’t just sweep the lives of many of our citizens under the rug. Sadly, some see this as enabling, but we see it as being human. We see it as a first step toward recovery.
Is it a magic wand? Of course not, but maybe, just maybe, we can make a difference.
The first step in community health is to be on the same page.
We all want the desired outcome. We just need to find a way to make it happen.