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#TorontoStrong: Love For All; Hatred For None

April 30, 2018 9:52 am

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#TorontoStrong: Love For All; Hatred For None

Last week, a hate-filled young man brought death and destruction to Yonge Street in Toronto.

Once considered the longest street in the world, Yonge Street remains the major arterial route in the Greater Toronto Area. It connects the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto to Lake Simcoe in Barrie, about 86 km (53 miles) north.

The attack took place in the centre of the former city North York, now the thriving, vibrant northern part the city of Toronto. Geographically, the attack took place about 14 km (8 miles) north of what might be considered downtown or Toronto city centre.

Although still relatively close to the area where the attack took place, I used to live about a 10-minute walk away.

Given my connection with the area, the reports and images of the rampage were truly upsetting.

Last night, like thousands of others, I attended the vigil for the victims and their families.

It was an awesome experience, from the massive police presence to the friendly smiles of complete strangers.

Both in response to the attack itself and ensuring public safety at the vigil, Toronto Police Services walked its tagline talk, To Serve and Protect. For the participants, still feeling somewhat shaken and vulnerable, the police service and protection was a reassuring and welcome element of the vigil.

In my case, the friendly smiles were triggered by a serendipitous development.

After arriving at the vigil and checking things out, I found a suitable vantage point for the proceedings and took a seat on a bench. At the other end of the bench was a man bundled up against the cold with a bulldog on leash. Having grown up with a dog and having had two of my own, I’m OK with dogs. When encountering new dogs or breeds, my normal approach is to wait for some kind of confirmation that it’s fine to interact with the dog. Even though the dog seemed harmless and friendly, its owner said and did nothing to that interaction with the dog would have been fine.

Long story short, the dog worked its way to where he wanted to be … sitting on the bench between my legs as I sat on the back of bench. Some how he managed to position his head and ears right below my left hand, within easy petting range. And as an added bonus, we both received lots of smiles from friendly strangers … while his owner was totally engaged with his phone.

Heading home last night, I realized there were more smiles than somber facial expressions in the crowd. On arrival at the vigil, there were few smiles among the somber faces.   Certainly there were lots of dogs at the vigil, but not nearly enough to generate the number of smiles evident in the crowd.

With Toronto Police Services providing the reassuring service and protection, the vigil presenters and community choirs worked their magic. They helped us deal with our grief and start the healing.

In the words of Rabbi Yael Splansky who spoke at the vigil:

“We believe our city has been shaken, but only for a day, because we know who we are and we know what we stand for and we know what we will not stand for.”

As strong Torontonians and proud Canadians, we stand for love for all … and will not stand for hatred.

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