The big drama about Toronto's mayor is stirring up intense hatred, judgment, and controversy. But what do our reactions say about us as people?

Do you know how Rob Ford feels right now?

I sure do.

Maybe you do too.

There’s nothing more heart-scraping than humiliation. There are few experiences more painful than being caught red-handed, except being caught lying about it.

I know that feeling. Chances are, you do too. You know what it’s like to feel insignificant, shamed, and hated. I know it’s hard to talk about, but you don’t have to talk about it. It’s just me and you through a screen. No one can see into your mind.

Perhaps you also know the terror of being vulnerable and exposed in front of people. Perhaps you know the pain of hiding giant parts of yourself because you think they’re wrong and ugly. Perhaps you also know what it’s like to hurt yourself and then lie about it, again and again, even though you know you shouldn’t.

I know that pain. I know what it’s like to be trapped in a messy web of lies, hoping that it’ll get better, but it just gets worse. I know what it’s to go to bed every night and hope to wake up:

  1. In an alternate reality
  2. Realizing it was all a dream
  3. Dead

I also know what it’s like to wake up every morning realizing that none of those things had happened and start the cycle over again.

Day after day, every time your problems don’t miraculously disappear, it just gets worse.

And you don’t ever tell anyone.

And in that silence, people judge. People see you fumbling in every area of your life, and they just gossip, assume, and hate. You know, deep down, that if they only knew what you were going through, they’d understand.

But they don’t know.

You stay silent and stagnant. You live in unimaginable, silent pain, waking up day after day to the same old reality that keeps getting worse and worse. Until you can’t take it anymore.

Until you have to do something, anything, to escape from the pain.

So you…

  • Snap at the grocery store clerk
  • Throw something
  • Drink yourself into a stupor
  • Smoke crack
  • Hit your wife
  • Kill yourself
  • Kill someone else

It’s the same pattern with anyone and everyone who ever hurts themselves or others.

When you’re in pain, excruciating pain, there’s only one thing that matters: stop the pain.

If the only way you know how to stop the pain is to drink, you’ll drink. If the only way you know how to stop the pain is to cut yourself, you’ll cut yourself. If the only way you know how to stop the pain is to hurt someone and make them feel pain, you’ll hurt someone.

We’re built to avoid pain and seek pleasure. When we’re hurting and we see no way out, we just go into instinctual survival mode. We’ll do the only thing we know how just to get a moment of peace.

That was me. That’s Rob Ford. That’s hundreds and thousands of people in the Western world who experience mental health problems like anxiety, depression, co-dependency, addiction, anger, eating disorders, violence, etc.

Collectively, we’re in so much pain that we’ll do anything just to numb it, even for a second.

We’ll do anything to feel peace, even crack-induced peace, just for a moment.

We’re in pain.

Rob Ford is in pain. But why?

We’re in pain because we’re hungry.

We have this giant hole inside of us that we try to fill with money, food, knowledge, sex, possessions, and power. We stuff it erratically and compulsively with anything we can get our hands on. We feel better for a second, but then the same, old discomfort returns. The same old emptiness comes back again and again.

Rob Ford has sure been trying to fit a hole inside of him. Look at him. He’s tried to stuff it with food, money, and power. He’s tried alcohol and crack.

But nothing helps. And nothing will ever help, except that one thing.

That hole inside of us is love-sized.

And I don’t mean flowers and candy, sex tips, pre-nuptial agreements kind of “love.” I mean real, genuine unconditional acceptance and appreciation. I mean that feeling within that tells you that you’re powerful, beautiful, and capable.

That’s real love.

Rob Ford, like so many people in Western society, suffers from love deprivation. It’s a sickness where a person has no idea who they are. They have no idea how powerful they are.

People who feel powerful don’t need to hurt others. People who feel powerful don’t need to sneak around doing drugs and drinking themselves into a stupor. They don’t need to lie, cheat, or steal. Only people who feel weak, desperate, and hopeless need to do those things.

Only people who are horribly ashamed of themselves can ever hurt themselves or others.

Understanding that indestructible inner power and having unconditional self-love, that’s exactly why Nelson Mandela could spend 27 years in prison and come out serene. It’s exactly how someone can get beaten, humiliated, insulted, and nailed to a cross without any resentment.

People who realize their own worth, their own power— these people don’t hurt themselves or others.

And they don’t gossip either.

In response to Rob Ford’s self-hating, blind, addicted, and desperate behaviour, the majority of people in Toronto have set to criticizing, hating, laughing, and judging.

If I point a finger at you, then no one has to look at me. Just for a second, if I gossip, I can feel powerful.

Everyone from Rob Ford to the media covering his stories to the activists to the critics on the street—they all feel completely and utterly powerless.

If I hate you, it keeps me from hating myself, even just for a moment.

Rob Ford “needs” criticism about as much as you do.

He doesn’t need to be taught a lesson. He doesn’t need to be criticized. He doesn’t need to be judged. He needs only to be reminded of his power. Not that momentary “better than you” power that fades away, but the real stuff. He needs to remember the indomitable power within that he can use to overcome his addiction, admit his mistakes, and grow as a person.

He’s hurt. He needs love and compassion, just like you do.

Rob Ford needs healing, not jeering. He needs help, not criticism.

We’re so busy making villains out of each other that we forget what we already know: pain makes us irrational.

And many of us are in so much pain because we’re starving for love, for power, for self-knowledge, for magic, for anything that feels like truth.

When I learned to love myself, I no longer needed drugs, grudges, or judgment. I didn’t need to put others down, and I didn’t need to drink my pain away. I realized that everything I judged and hated about others was just a reflection of what I judged and hated in myself.

So do I think that Rob Ford is fit to be the mayor? No. Not at this moment, no. He needs to heal first.

But it’s not really about him. It’s really about us and our society of judgment. Every person who slanders him accidentally and unintentionally reveals his or her own self-hatred. And there’s a lot of self-hating going on.

Surrounded by impossible standards of perfection and no idea how to truly be happy, most people will just pass the buck. I’ll just hate you for a moment so I can stop hating myself.

Every moment spent judging and gossiping is a moment you don’t have to spend hating your thighs, your fear, your life.

Rob Ford doesn’t need your judgment. He needs your compassion. It’s exactly what you’d want in a time of crisis too. You just want to be loved and accepted, flaws and all, especially in your darkest moments. But will you do it for someone else? Can you do it for yourself?

The truth is—how you feel about Rob Ford is a direct reflection of how you feel about the wounded part inside of you that you’re too ashamed to show to anyone.

How you feel about me and my words is how you feel about your own pain, your own imperfection, your own inherent humanity.

So say what you will and do what you please, but don’t forget that everything you say about Rob Ford, about his behaviour, about me, about this article—it’s all a reflection of you more than it is a reflection of reality.

Are you willing to admit your imperfection? Are you willing to embrace it?

I hope so, because you certainly deserve that kind of acceptance, that kind of love.

And so does our mayor.

And so does everyone in our confused, self-judging, suffering corner of the world.


10 thoughts on “Why I Love Rob Ford (Even If He Smokes Crack)!

  1. Great theory Veronica, except, there is also a bigger part of this species that operates on the same principle water does when flowing down hill…seek the path of least resistance. This path is strewn with all kinds of Rob Ford behavior and we should not let that slide…there absolutely needs to be criticism and consequences or everyone would choose to become the lowest common denominator. Reward good, condemn bad.

  2. To be compassionate and sympathetic is one thing, but that does not discount the fact that Ford has consistently served Canada’s largest city poorly, and with disrespect.

    He should absolutely receive help; he should be in rehab, anger management courses, and perhaps serve some time in camh. But addicts, violent abusers, homophobes, discriminators, classist and irresponsible hypocritical workers should not be in charge of running a city, particularly not one so diverse in it’s needs as Toronto.

    1. Yes, I agree it is important to have good leadership. And advocating for positive leaders is something I wholeheartedly support!

      What I’m speaking of is not whether or not he should be the mayor. What I’m saying is not about sympathy, empathy, or even compassion. To hate him, call him names, or judge him …is only to do an injustice against self. That motivation has an origin. There is no division between him and the person perceiving him. As Anais Nin taught us – “We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.”

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts 🙂

  3. Beautiful, blissful, so true! But there’s a factor, because I am in such a pain and I am still working on my issues which I fully accept and even embrace (what a sketchy healing word “embrace”), I don’t run for mayor of a city, I first take care of my health and when I will be healthy enough, I’ll go then and become a mayor, a human mayor, not a super-hero, just a human mayor. The issue with this person who we have as mayor is that he can’t take care of himself and his emotions how can he take care of a city… My gosh, is simple… No, I don’t believe a person that hasn’t worked at least in his basic issues is ready to be a leader, he needs to conquer his passions at least basically first, and if he needs to constantly be escaping he’s not fit to rule.

    1. Well said, Arie! One who wants to change the world must, always, first change himself.

      Leadership is effortless after we discover who we really are and what we are here for. However, most people spent their lives struggling through every moment. They don’t know things can be simple! They don’t know that everything that is true is simple!

      I look forward to the sigh of relief that will go through Western society when we realize – Gosh, we’ve really been making it all so difficult for ourselves.

      Thanks for the mind and heart stimulation, Arie <3

  4. First, I’d like to say that your compassionate viewpoint is, in itself, healing. I was not comfortable with the press that Charlie Sheen received awhile ago. I was afraid that he would die before he changed his life. He (Sheen), Lindsey Lohan, Robert Downey and Rob Ford have each melted down on a very public stage. The journey to recovery seemed to have been catalyzed by arrests, jail time, hospital time, suicide attempts, loss of jobs and/or loss of family. In the throes of the crisis, I have never enjoyed the ad hominum jokes concerning their illnesses. The talk show hosts are the worst.

    All of that said I offer two thoughts for reflection that are not based on any personal knowledge of Rob Ford. Every addict I’ve ever known, who is managing a successful recovery, has repeatedly stated that he/she are grateful for the crisis that shamed, guilted, humiliated or frightened them into realizing that they needed to make a huge change. They call it a bottoming out, if I recall correctly. I’ve heard Robert Downey, Lindsey Lohan and Sheen offering self-deprecating humor around their various misadventures. There is always “music” to be faced and I’ve heard them face it publicly, at awards shows, with dignity and with humor. When a trust is broken it is difficult to get it back. That is simply understood as a part of the wreckage that unfolds. Downey has said that it keeps pride away and humility on the table (paraphrase).

    Beyond a discussion concerning humiliation, we do not know Rob Ford’s mental status. I heard a psychopath, who had been convicted with first degree murder charges, say that he felt no shame or humiliation about what he had done. Psychopaths and sociopaths (sorry for using old terminology), do not register guilt or shame. We imagine or wish that they think like us, or that they are like everyone else, and the sad truth of the matter is that they do not. In point of fact, they can not access those emotions. I am NOT saying that Ford is a sociopath; however, I am saying that it would be important for him to have a mental status check before anyone assumes that he is being affected by the public outcry. He doesn’t see that there is a big question concerning his ability to lead the city. He is not making good judgments. That much we do know. Is his inability to see the damage unfolding a result of his addiction (he has not yet admitted being addicted to anything, to my knowledge); or, in fact, is it due to a diagnosed (or an un-diagnosed) personality disorder?

    At the end of the day, are we to remain silent or are we obliged to speak out? It seems that the answer to that question might be a tough call. I do like your suggestion, Veronika, because you are maintaining that we exercise kindness, at all turns of the road. Thus, the issue isn’t so much whether we do or do not respond to his crisis…the concern ought to be a careful consideration of ‘how’ we do so, non?

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful reply Catherine! Yes, it’s a lot to think about. I’ve found, in doing the work I do, that sociopaths and psychopaths are people who are numb. Not hopeless, but numb. There’s an automatic self-protection mechanism inside their minds that triggered, maybe a year ago and maybe when they were infants. That lack of emotional connection, that numbness, I know that state. It is a state of healing avoidance. I’ve been there and, yes, it allows one to act in inexcusable ways without momentary regret. But if that person decides to heal, the regret will come. We are emotional creatures by default. The question is really – how do you convince someone that they need help if they are in denial? I think the answer is – kindly. 🙂

  5. Why do people mix self-esteem with self love? And why do people think that addiction is always a spiritual problem?, did you know that the spiritual or the self is influenced by the carnal for every human being that is living on this planet ? Though we need good self esteem, self love leads to selfishness, and that is because self love is a subjective state, what humanity needs is to understand self worth by an objective means which gives the self its worth and meaning and its True value .

    Rob for has an addiction , whether it’s a spiritual problem or not he must deal with it, but Rob ford is not hated , he is though judged on his ability to hold office, and rightly so , people judge every single day between right and wrong , that is what gives us choice.

    There is nothing wrong in judging, the problem is what set of standards or beliefs we JUDGE BY, and in Rob Fords case he has been judged by his ability and character to hold office, that has nothing to do with the worth of his being and everything to do with his charater.

    I hope you see Veronica your comments of Ford are full of Judgments and conclusions as to why he does what he does, and your conclusions of his selfless love of himself is based on what you believe is true based on your spiritual believe system.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Frank.

      As I see it: True selfishness is not the opposite of selflessness. In real love, there is no need to choose between self and other, because self IS other.

      Self-love is not self-esteem. Self-love is self-acceptance. When we accept a tree, we give it water and sunshine. The tree becomes whatever it will become. And thus, I suggest Rob Ford suffers and I have suffered. He just needs some fresh water and the courage to admit he’s not getting it. He’s hungry and, unfortunately, spiritually anorexic.

      As for his being able to run office, as I said, I suppose he shouldn’t, but I’m not a politician. I’m a spiritual teacher. I just want that suffering man to get the help that he needs. I feel for him greatly and I wish him the best.

      And I wish you the best as well, Frank. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

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