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Toronto is a city of diversity, freedom, and peace.

Extremism cannot destroy the incredible success that has made Toronto a city loved around the world by many, especially by those who come to visit and live in it and leave transformed and surprised by its many beautiful landmarks, cultures, activities and its unique way of life.

The many cultures and languages of its citizens are its heart. The shared respect for lawful and equal freedom its back. The permanent presence of peace in each of its inhabitants its soul.

Toronto is, in one word, inviting; a pleasure and a privilege to inhabit.

Today Toronto, Torontonians and its visitors from all over the world, must become one against those who have broken this peace, have tried to unsettle this freedom and have shattered this diversity by killing many of our citizens.

Let our way of life, which can be much improved still, be the main way to remember those who died today.

Let our governmental institutions remember their solemn duty to protect us from the dangers of extremism in all its guises,  however tough the decisions to achieve this may turn out to be.

Let our togetherness as a city, our shared suffering at this horrible event,  lead us forward in remembrance.



PRIVATE Reflections: Toronto Van Attack 2018 II
Publicly we should mourn and come together, especially for the families of the victims. Privately, however, we should question what exactly is happening in Toronto (and Canada) that can make this horrific act possible. Privately, this is an opportunity to question our way of life, and specifically, why it may lead some to radicalize themselves against us.
For example, everyone should watch the killer’s father, and his defeated harrowing gaze, leaving the courtroom yesterday and be moved to serious reflection.
For instance, following what we know now about the killer’s motives, and not excusing his cowardly act and motivation for a single second, one might reflect on whether this form of radicalism is in part created by counteracting forms of extremism which we, somehow think, are good.
For the most horrific thing of it all, is that it was one of us that did this to us. THAT we should never forget and should do everything in our power to understand and to change.

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Reflections: Shawn






When one spends a lot of time in a single place, one will experience many surprising things. One will also meet many unique people. For we all are unique, unrepeatable. And each moment, as well, is unrecoverable.

I have spent tons of time at the Y seeking to recover. I had already spoken to a man who told me he was a medium. Once he had even signaled to horses. “Did I care about horses?”, he asked. I was quite surprised at his words given the history of horses in my family.  I spoke to him and questioned him. I asked him how he knew what he knew. We spoke respectfully. I always thanked him for sharing his way of thinking. When with him, I always thought about Socrates and about Delphi. The whole thing.

And then there was the Brazilian whom I called “Cantante”. Many times he sang beautifully. Once I asked him to whistle the Brazilian national anthem while doing exercises in the shower. He gladly did so. I remembered then all the times Brazil had been World Champions and how familiar these sounds were. I remembered my hero as a young man, Pelé.

Since we usually hung out naked in the men´s room, there are many other stories which are better reserved for private ears!

And then, one of the many days while doing my basketball routine as part of my recovery, a group of special needs adults arrived at the basketball court. They chose the side where I was shooting. Soon, I was left alone with them as all other players chose to move to the other side of the court. I did not mind playing with these challenged adults. The other younger players did. I played normally amongst them for a few minutes and saw how they marveled at shooting and enjoying their limited abilities. Their teacher, a young woman, really cared for them. It showed. They were having fun. It was like the NBA, but in really slow motion and with lots of misses. Like Jordan, but in the upside down world of timelessness. I was having fun too, as I always do with a ball. I was surprised at the amazing recovery I had undergone during the last few months. Almost a year.

But my routine had come to an end and I knew I could not keep on going anymore as I could injure myself. Now I had to cool down, as I usually do, by simultaneously stretching and powering down the muscles. This for, example involves kicking in the air and very gently jogging almost in place. If one just saw these last movements, they would actually look a bit odd in a basketball court. Some involve kicking as if playing soccer. But his was not a soccer field. You can imagine. Odd.

Then, it happened. One of the special needs adults stood up right beside me and started mimicking my actions. I looked to the side and saw it was real. It was true, he was doing exactly what I did! He still had his basketball in one arm, but he started to jog in place as best as he could, for it was obvious he had some serious movement difficulties. But that was not all. Suddenly he —–about 25 or so, and with a kind face—- started laughing with all his might. He did so while at the same time watching me and repeating my very movements. “HA, HA, HA”,  he almost screamed as if no one else were there in the gym. Louder than Santa´s “HO, HO, HO”, it seemed. But of course, there were many others. I had found it a bit odd that he was mimicking me. I wondered why.  What had caught his imagination. But when he started laughing, every single person on the court turned to face us. Their faces were that of surprise.  Some even seemed sorry for me. I wasn´t.

There I was cooling down from my routine and my special needs friend laughing out loud. And both of us doing strange non-basketball movements in a basketball court! Weirdly funny.  As I have been a teacher, I was not vexed by the unexpected situation. As I have myself overcome difficulties in movement, I was not vexed by his loud presence. Actually, I was happily surprised.

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