Funeral. If ever there was a case to be made for covering up the facts, funerals would get first place, with honours.
One doesn’t usually have to reach far to find a funeral in their own experience that could be used as an example, but when there’s a funeral cover-up handed to us on a silver platter, why not use it?
The case of Rob Ford.
When I heard he’d died, I have to admit, I experienced the superficial grief that comes from the loss of any public life. It really is superficial though; I’d never met the man. I couldn’t possibly “miss” him. I guess I missed the fodder he gave me for news stories, the same way I will miss the music Bowie gave me. But there was no personal connection with either man, really.
What happened after that was astounding.
Social media erupted with condolences, cyber tears, and memory shrines.
- tanyatooblessedAlways will be remembered in our hearts
- ayaksshamoddiRIP. Toronto will never be the same without you.
Once he was lying in state at Toronto City Hall, thousands of mourners visited, to “pay their respects.” At his funeral, well-wishers spilled onto the cathedral lawn, and the words spoken highlighted a life well-lived, honouring the larger-than-life man whose council-room antics more resembled an elephant than a dignified politician.
Why do we as a society insist of creating a shrine of sunshine, lollipops and rainbows to those who have made our lives difficult, uncomfortable, or downright ugly? In fact, why do we as a society insist on creating a shrine, period, for people who did not significantly impact us? Why must we feel the pain of others, to somehow feel alive, ourselves?
I watched Rob Ford’s funeral, and saw the visible pain in his mother’s face, the tears of his wife, and the courage of his children. I acknowledge their pain and the loss they are feeling. I generalize a little and feel badly for the children who lost a father. I would avoid slogging Rob Ford on a day like this. That’s called sympathy – sympathy for the human condition. I have a great deal of it for those left behind after any loss. But what we see in the outpouring of fawning in the wake of Ford’s death – sentiments written in sidewalk chalk on Toronto streets, and onlooking hollering last farewells – “Goodbye, Rob” – as if they are now best friends in death, when they were possibly never friends in life – is far beyond sympathy. And since it can’t possibly be empathy – we cannot feel the feelings of the Ford family if we don’t even know them – then I put it down to a spectacle.
Rob Ford led a hard life and made bad decisions. He also had some good qualities, among them, his passion for his hometown. We don’t have to forget that he led a hard life and made bad decisions, in order to celebrate his good qualities. In fact, it’s in the contrasts that we appreciate the good in life. Rob Ford was sweet and salty all at once. Let’s just appreciate the whole, and stop embalming the good stuff, and hiding the bad!