3 weeks. Not long, and yet so long.

The afternoon of April 23, 2018 will be remembered by Torontonians in that dreaded, ‘where were you when you first heard?’, way. A day when our city lost some of it’s innocence, when we showed the world the kind of people (kind people) we are, and a day when we demonstrated the truth that love wins.

The afternoon of April 23, 2018 vividly reminded me, personally, that we best not take anything for granted. Three days earlier, at the exact time of day that the incident occurred (yes, I’m choosing to call it an ‘incident’ even though many will say that’s too mild a word – I’m choosing not to feed energy into the evil by naming it, or it’s perpetrator), I was shopping at what would become the epicentre of tragic events. I was checking chores off my to-do list just like so many that would be there 72 hours later. My day ended predictably blandly, while theirs was shattered – whether they were hurt or not.

The afternoon of April 23, 2018 teetered briefly, dangerously, close to slipping into fear, xenophobia and hatred. The first reports I heard about the incident branded it as terrorism (not even suspected terrorism) as corroborated by our southern neighbors who have more experience in these things. With knee-jerk ‘certainty’ there were reports of ‘patterns’ and ‘predictability’ and it just ‘made sense’.  But it wasn’t ‘certain’ as was later clarified. Funny how we’re quick to make sense of the worst-case scenario. I wonder how often, in other situations that are not so easy for me to follow-up on, we’re victims of seeing what we’re looking for? Or listening to those that think they do?

The afternoon of April 23, 2018 showed so many examples of instinctual heroism. Firstly, there’s no way that Constable Ken Lam (yes, I won’t use the other man’s name, but I’d shout Const. Lam’s from a rooftop) consciously thought through his decision not to shoot a man lying about the fact that he was armed. Events unfolded far too fast and with too much adrenaline. Rather, his training and subconscious instincts guided him through a peaceful takedown that should be written about in textbooks and set the tone for how the city processed the events. Before Const. Lam, were the people that instinctually ran after what they perceived as a runaway car, not processing terror but the need to rescue a potentially medically compromised driver. There were the people who tried to clear a path and those that stuck with the medically and emotionally harmed, instinctually setting aside their own fear and horror because, in the moment, they served a higher purpose.

As the afternoon of April 23 turned to evening I witnessed the most amazing part of a horrible day. Those that sought to foster hatred out of tragedy failed miserably in Toronto. As the city came – quite quickly – together in vigil to mourn and process, there wasn’t talk of ‘outsiders’ or ‘retaliation’ or ‘strong borders’. The bouquets of flowers amassed, and the candles and memorials twinkled, and the posters that people left behind said ‘Love For All, Hatred For None’. Hate tears apart. Love mends. Toronto is recovering with grace and healing quickly. We are structurally strong and shoring up safety as is prudent. But more than that – we have a community heart and generous spirit that will see us through.

I’m so proud of my city! We as a community, and individually, need to realize and remember that we can’t control everything we’ll ever experience. We can remember to filter the information we receive – particularly when it’s coming fast and furious – for whether it’s truth or trusted belief (remembering that beliefs aren’t always truthful). We can foster positivity so that it becomes our instinct and celebrate those who demonstrate our ideals. And we can let love win – because it is the universal solvent… everything dissolves to good when bathed in love.

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