I have no authority to give the Christian response to the Rob Ford scandal(s) but I can give a Christian response. I have been amazed at the interest and coverage of the Toronto mayor’s problems. People are far more interested in Ford’s crack use than the super-storm that is devastating the Philippines. That alone should tell us that there is a problem.
I will confess that there is something entertaining about the whole mess. Watching this powerful man fall from grace, navigate lies, be revealed in terrible videos and so on. Watching some of the coverage, you can see the smirks and amusement of the reporters and newscasters. They are enjoying themselves. Even Americans are interested in what is usually the boring Canadian political scene.
The thing is, it is not amusing. The interest in Ford is the same as seeing a car accident on the highway. We hope that if we have to slow down that there is at least some significant damage, maybe even some flames and a few ambulances, to make it worthwhile. The victims of the accident are not people but something to relieve our boredom.
I have watched some of Ford’s rants as well as his apologies. Do I have opinions on whether he should resign? Sure, but not being a resident of Toronto, it is none of my business. My real reaction is that of pity. Ford is the same age as me. While I doubt I would have ever been mayor, I was going down a bad road at one point in my life. There was a time when I was drunk every night. I made bad decisions when I was drunk (no I never smoked crack). I turned that corner twenty-five years ago. I can’t imagine what Ford is going through at this stage of life, in his position. I have the freedom to make mistakes without many people knowing. Ford messes up and the whole world knows. How would we feel if videos of the worst points in our life were played on CNN?
I am not trying to dismiss the seriousness of what he has done. Threatening to kill someone, drunkenness and crack cocaine are pretty serious. This is true for anyone, much less the mayor of Toronto. But this guy has problems. The fact that he was so drunk that he smoked crack makes it clear. Seeing interviews with him, there is a brokenness and a humiliation in his face. Has he changed? I have no idea. I do know that life must be a nightmare and the media is eagerly digging to make it worse.
If you are a Christian and you hear about Rob Ford, how do you react? Do you eagerly suck up the gossip? Or do you pray for him? Do you have pity on him? Do you think about his family? Do you hope for his recovery? Rob Ford is a human being created in the image of God. God did not create him to amuse us as his life falls apart. I pray that there are Christians reaching out to him and supporting rather than condemning him for his mistakes.