I guess it’s my turn

I guess it’s my turn to offer my two cents on the entire World Youth Day festivities here in Toronto. For those not in the know, back in 1983 the Pope presented a wooden cross to the “youth of the world” and instructed them to keep it and care for it, and that they would meet in a major world city every two years with the cross for a week of mass gathering and prayer. This year, Toronto was selected. Some of you will remember a previous post this month when I volunteered to help clear the streets when this cross came through my hometown of Bolton. This week, about 600,000 foreign youths and their families began to crowd into Toronto to take in our beautiful city, and last night, to attend a vigil hosted by the Pope himself. Most, if not all, of these 600,000 people stayed overnight, and now they’re expecting up to 1,500,000 local youths and their families to attend an open mass this morning. My wife has headed down with a friend from work, actually.

Now, if you take 600,000 or more people who are not normally in our area and drop them in downtown Toronto it should go without saying that things will get a bit crowded. These visitors, known as “pilgrims”, have taken to our subway system en masse and have been taking full advantage of their time here to see the whole city. This has, of course, caused for excessive foot traffic on most downtown streets, and promptly sent some members of the whining public into a fit. Don’t get me wrong, I have actually been more than impressed with the general lack of negativity surrounding this event, and I’m sure most of that is owed to September 11th and a general return to faith, or in the very least, an understanding of others’ faith. Two years ago this event would have lead to all sorts of blasphemous comments, no doubt, but people have accepted this Catholic gathering and seem to have gone out of their way to be accepting of it and gracious to our visitors.

Religion, and Catholicism, are frequently held as the major reasons for some of the world’s greater problems. “All of the World’s major fights and wars are over religion.” How many times have you heard that? At least 600,000 Catholics and Christians have crowded into the streets of Toronto this week and have we seen fighting? War? Theft? Murder? Plundering? Looting? I haven’t. No more than usual, which might fly in the face of those that have chosen to use Christianity as a scapegoat for the problems of the World. What I saw last night on the CBC was hundreds of thousands of youth singing, dancing, and happily coexisting with others of different ethnic backgrounds. Skin colour and diversity meant nothing – they were people, bonding together by a common love and possibly the last chance they would ever have to be lead by our present Pope. My faith in the future of our World through the young people was reaffirmed last night as I watched this gathering with nary a bad thing happening from beginning to end. You don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate it when this many people can exist so peacefully and with such love for one another.

Have a problem with crowded sidewalks? Upset over busy streetcars and subways? I don’t have a whole lot to say to you about it. Take a minute to look at the greater picture, whether you believe in God or not. To those that have welcomed our pilgrims with open arms, I thank you. People the World over are looking at Toronto with a rich fondness now that perhaps they didn’t before. I’ve had people ask me about our city – with the acceptance we’ve offered these pilgrims, and the great images of happy people and a clean city – they’re interested in paying us a visit. If you can find reason to be negative in all this perhaps you haven’t yet opened your eyes after all.

Cheers,
Rick Jessup

I realized last night that

I realized last night that when people say “it feels good to do something nice”, they lie. They lie really bad. A more correct quote might be “it feels good to HAVE DONE something nice.” There is a large difference. Here’s the story – for those of you that aren’t Catholic, there’s this thing every few years called World Youth Day – this year, it takes place in Toronto. In 1984 the Pope gave a cross to the “children of the World” and they have since been taking turns carting all around the World. Well, inexplicably, said cross ended up in Bolton last night – population few. The decision had been made that a procession would be made straight up Highway 50 (the main drag) from the main Catholic church to the Catholic school on the North Hill (Bolton is basically a big old valley). So they needed volunteers to first help direct cars into the provided spaces, and then to stop other cars from driving on the highway and running down the youth of the World and their big old cross. Being a good boy I volunteered to help the Rotary group do this. So I slapped on my cool construction guy vest with the reflectors, parked cars, then moved over to a plaza along 50 housing a Petro Canada.

Oh, and then the fun began.

It quickly became apparent to me what happens when you take all the Christians and put them on the street walking a cross. Why, the evil, foul, and generally objectionable people are all that remains. Apparently. You name it, I was called it.

Irate Driver: “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GET MY F–KIN’ PIZZA IF I CAN’T GET ACROSS THE F–KIN’ ROAD?!?”
Rick: “Well, you could park your car, walk across the street and get the pizza, then walk back to your car.”
Irate Driver: “ARE YOU F–KIN’ KIDDING ME!?!”
Rick: “No.”
Irate Driver: “FOR F–K’S SAKES!!!!”
Rick: “Ok.”

Irate Old Man: “HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GET HOME?”
Rick: “You can cross downtown at King or south at Mayfield – take Coleraine along the back to get there.”
Irate Old Man: “BUT I JUST NEED TO GET THERE!!!” (pointing frantically across the street)
Rick: “Well, I guess you’ll have to drive there or there, eh?” (pointing north at King, south at Mayfield)
Irate Old Man: “NEVER HAVE I SEEN A PARADE THAT WOULDN’T ALLOW YOU TO CROSS A STREET!”
Rick: “Can’t say that again, can ya?”
Irate Old Man: “THIS IS THE STUPIDEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN!!”
Rick: “Sorry, Sir, next year I’ll bring my cross somewhere else.”

Irate Young Girl: “HOW DO I GET HOME?”
Rick: “You can cross downtown at King or south at Mayfield – take Coleraine along the back to get there.”
Irate Young Girl: “WHAT!!!!!????”
Rick: “You can cross downtown at King or south at Mayfield – take Coleraine along the back to get there.”
Irate Young Girl: “YOU MEAN I CAN’T JUST F–KIN’ DRIVE ACROSS THE F–KIN’ STREET?”
Rick: “Not here you can’t. At King or Mayfield you can.”
Irate Young Girl: “FOR A F–KIN’ CROSS!!! THIS IS THE F–KIN’ STUPIDEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD!!!”
Rick: “So I guess you’re not interested in waiting to see the cross then, eh?”

*sigh*

I phoned my Mom afterwards and said she wasn’t very popular around town seeing as I was a mother-this and a son-of-a-that. I was hit by three car bumpers of cars who were rather insistent on crossing the street, regardless of the fact that I was between them. I had one guy get on the highway so I got in front of him and told him to get back in the lot. He yelled a bit and I said sorry, nothing I can do, they give me this vest and now I wield supreme executive power upon the entire city (“MOOHAHAHA!!!”) and he said “ok, I’ll go back”. So I moved out of the way and he quickly ripped across the street anyways. But thank God for small victories, as one of the patrolling police cars quickly sped over to nab him as he entered the other plaza. :)

Long-winded but I had to vent I suppose. What a day. I’m happy to say that my parents and I closed the experience off with a most excellent dinner at The Angry Tomato – the spicy corn chowder and chicken creole were dead-on, props to the Chef.

Friday quiz, already delayed, I’ll do later tonight.

Cheers,
Rick Jessup