The Big City

The pictures and the video of the hostage taking that took place at the front door of Toronto’s Union Station have cycled across Canada and back again. It’s sad seeing these images, and to see my old hometown sullied by this shocking violence. That said, I am encouraged by the shock, by the sense that people still believe that nothing like this happens in Toronto, usually. If we’re shocked, we still have hope. We know that our city isn’t supposed to be this way, and knowing this, we might still be able to ensure that our city doesn’t get to be this way.

Kudos to the news agencies for refraining from showing footage where the hostage taker was actually shot. That would have been a media moment that would have played on at least one American network or two. The images we did see were shocking enough, but all news agencies tended to focus on the fallen hostage taker, lying behind a garbage bin, partially obscured. It was all that we needed to see, and I’m grateful that the media didn’t try to jam more gore down our throats.

The news that the hostage taker’s gun had jammed and was incapable of firing another shot means that this won’t be the last that we hear about this story, which is a shame. In my opinion, the police could hardly be expected to know that the guy was essentially unarmed, and he still had his arm around his victim’s neck. I think police sharpshooters did a remarkable job bringing the man down with as little risk to innocent bystandards as possible.

And maybe it is good that the questions don’t stop over this story… so long as we don’t give up on our city. So long as we know that Toronto deserves better, and it can be better.

Good News in Iraq

The Iraqi-brokered peace deal in Najaf is good news for many reasons, not the least of which being that American soldiers no longer need to risk heavy casualties and Iraqi enmity storming the shrine by force. But I am very pleased that Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini al-Sistani was one of the principles behind the successful resolution of this conflict, because it represents Iraqis solving their own problems rather than Americans doing it for them. It represents their first step of real independence since the invasion. For the insurgents, it’s a clear message that the Iraqi people do not approve of their actions and will accept nothing less than a free and democratic Iraq.

Though plenty of challenges exist for the future, I think I can be more confident now that things will eventually work out well.

But that can be no excuse for the “miscalculations” that went on before.

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