22 July 2011

Through Thick and Thin

With the war currently being waged against Toronto by our own mayor and a disturbingly obsequious council, it’s easy to feel so alienated that one would be tempted to leave the city. Several of my friends have casually suggested the prospect of moving elsewhere in response to the increasing hostility to progressives and our principles. It feels like nothing is safe, and that no battle – no matter how much reason is on our side – can be won.

However, remember that the more hopeless we feel, the more work we have to do (and, consequently, the more we want to leave, the more Toronto needs us). Unconditional, long-term devotion to this place – what I call geographic fidelity – is what Toronto needs now more than ever. We (that is, those of us who are so privileged that we can even consider moving elsewhere) should act and think as though there is nowhere else to go, that we’re stuck in this place forever, that we’re in this for the long-haul so we better make it good. Political actions are rendered less meaningful – and political causes less urgent – if one lives as though moving away is always an option.

Furthermore, it’s fair-weather activism. To care about your city is to care not only when it’s convenient, but to keep caring when it’s difficult to care, when caring is disrespected, and even when caring seems futile; activism is the most important when it’s the least fun. To behave otherwise would be exploitative, benefitting from the city when it’s in a good state but abandoning it in bad times.

When Miller was mayor it was easy to love Toronto; it was during his mayoralty, after all, that the then-revolutionary movement to not hate Toronto took flight. Progressive ideas and principles were relatively prominent and somewhat respected by council, if not in the media as well. Where we used to have a mayor who would even regularly attend relatively-esoteric Spacing magazine release parties to show his civic devotion, the current mayor can’t even be bothered not to snub everything related to one of the city’s (if not the country’s) biggest events. Now that our civic heart is being broken daily, we have to work harder than ever for our love.

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