By Meghann Coughlan-Hernandez. When the world loses an amazing soul – as it did today with Nelson Mandela – people and businesses feel compelled to acknowledge the loss publicly.
This, in itself, is by no means disrespectful. Mandela deserves all the love and respect the world has to give. However, when an organization or individual is acknowledging the loss it is important to ensure that one has the right intentions and is not acting in direct contrast of what a person like Mandela spent his life working towards.
Of homelessness, Mandela said “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like Slavery and Apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great.”
“YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
And so, I am not going to chastise the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA) for their living contradiction. That would not be appropriate in the context of these ideals.
Rather, I will hope that his words weigh heavy on the hearts of the ADBA, employees of the City of Abbotsford, Council, the Abbotsford Police and all those who oppose the housing proposal and the Drug War Survivors dignity camp downtown.
I hope that this great loss inspires you to be the difference in the lives of those who are viewed as less-than by the masses.
Remember that classism is as poisonous as racism and that you all can set an amazing example in exercising compassion for other human beings. And in return, I will try and love you all through this.
I will try to remember that maybe you just don’t know any better and deserve loving guidance as much as anyone else.