‘You people’ and ‘us’

Perched over the Toronto Star in the lunchroom one of our senior reporters, not known for saying too much, mused aloud about Don Cherry’s front-page coverage.

Ironically, Cherry’s pitch for poppies, which resulted in his firing, got more attention than the veterans he was supposedly helping.

Relegated to the bottom right, under the fold, were details of Remembrance Day activities held the previous day. Coverage inside the paper of services held across the GTA were eclipsed by opinion pieces deriding Cherry.

Yards of type laid bare the personality originally made a household name by Canada’s very own CBC nearly 40 years ago. His time has come and gone.

Countless hours have been spent on social media and talk radio delving into whether or not he should have been fired. Excuses and apologies flowed like water most of the week after a rant that seemed to lay poor poppy sales at the feet of newcomers to Canada. As observed in every direction it seems, the camps for and against his ouster are equally ensconced.

About all that is missing in this picture is an illustration of people with ear muffs on shouting out opinions without hearing what the other side has to say.

One would have to believe in 2019 that society has matured to a point where it is understood that certain phrases and sayings have meaning. “You people” is akin to putting gas on a fire when referencing new Canadians, particularly when laying blame – in this case for not supporting the Legion by buying poppies. We have much to learn still it seems.

Ironically, this sideshow on Remembrance Day overshadowed the sacrifice of veterans who made it possible for all Canadians to enjoy the quality of life we all share and a sense of freedom sought by people the world over.

While this tawdry affair plays out and slides into irrelevance, let us all remember that words mean things and the manner in which we communicate makes a difference to people.

Rather than celebrate those who tell it like it is with bombast and haste – usually at the expense of someone else – let’s endeavour to correspond and speak with good purpose about “us” and what we can do to make the world better.