TRYING A NEW (OLD) APPROACH

A strange thing happened this weekend. There were Liberals. In church. In our city. Really. I’m not making this up. (whisper now….And it was a Christian church, too.)

Back in the fall last year when Reverend Eugene Rivers came to Canada as a veteran of the violence that was stealing away the youth and promise of black youth in his own community, he suggested a number of avenues that parents here should take. He spoke what he believed, and simply told the truth to those who wanted to listen.

The message he had wasn’t meant to console anyone. It was meant to change things in the black community, in the white community, in the police departments, in our homes, and in our governments. Reverend Rivers had a vision of what it would take to turn things around. In fact, it wasn’t only a vision, it was a proven method, one that he pioneered using the good common sense that the Lord had imparted to him.

At the height of any storm or other desperate situation, it is easy to promise the world. After all, who wants to appear as the hindrance to the solution? Nobody, not even our politicians, is eager to look like the cog that would jam the machine.

I am glad to announce that Premier McGuinty has finally done something that is against his political character. He has kept his word. While it was a long time coming, it could have come at no better time than now and for no better issue than young lives.

Speaking at the Toronto-West Seventh Day Adventist Church where Amon Beckles was shot to death in the midst of a rash of shootings last year, Premier Dalton McGuinty offered up $3 million to the faith community to work with its children and their families.

While the government probably spends that hundreds of times over for the same problem in other areas, I find it incredible that a level of government as high as a provincial one would find the Christian community worthy of those funds when so much time has been devoted to excluding them from everything in the name of the American ideology of the church and state debate.

I for one think that it is money well spent. The young men who are finding it attractive to gravitate toward a life of crime can be reached best by those around them, not by social workers and government bureaucrats.

As well, the words of Reverend Winters should be heard by others. The parents of these youth must get their own houses in order and become functioning, useful, relevant players in the lives of these children.

As Eugene Rivers had the courage to say; this is a black problem, one that is destroying the youth of that community. Now, let’s hope that the men and women who gain control of these funds are truly there for the youth. The community must keep those who have pretended to be their spokesmen for so long away from it. It must remain in the hands not of professional activists, but in the hands of the grassroots, the people who work with the youth on the streets and in their homes.

I believe that this program will work if everyone involved puts their best foot forward. The greatest things get done when we stop relying solely on the government and actually roll up our own sleeves. And we should, because it is us, black and white, who will reap the bounty.