Rob Ford and how we are enabling vs. helping him

Unfortunately, Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford has become quite the laughingstock. He’s the guy people love to shoot down at the water cooler—and anyone who watches late night TV is aware that of the comedic fodder he’s been supplying the hosts for far too long. I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering how this situation has gotten so out of hand, giving Canada a huge black eye on the international landscape.

ADDICTION DOESN’T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT

The way I see it is that this sort of fiasco doesn’t happen overnight. Although I don’t know him personally, my best guess is that Mr. Ford has some major entitlement issues—he feels he can do and say whatever he likes, whenever he wants to do and say it, with no realistic grasp of the repercussions or why they should be leveled against him. Instead, he believes that he is entitled to live his life this way.

On the one hand, of course we are all ‘entitled’ to make the choices by which we live, as long as we understand that there will be consequences to every choice—some good, some bad, some ugly. But I believe that Mr. Ford’s consequences have become this ugly due, in large part, to the fact that he has been enabled by his constituents, fellow city officials, and very likely his own family, to be a screw-up.

Having had my own issues with addiction for many years, I have deep compassion for Mr. Ford. We use addictive behaviors to change how we feel, to not have to face issues that seem too difficult to deal with, to maintain the choice of not dealing with the realities of our lives. Addiction is definitely for people who don’t want to handle reality, and reality is for people who can’t handle addiction. Mr. Ford falls into the first category—and I’m grateful every day that I now much more easily reside in the second.

We now know that Mr. Ford has used crack cocaine, by his own admission. Whether he is ‘addicted’ to it or not is anyone’s guess—although most people who use crack on any kind of regular basis become hooked very quickly. In my experience, anything we need to lie about as vehemently as he did about his crack use is often true.

But this isn’t Mr. Ford’s only addiction issue.

THE HUGE PRICE TAGS OF ADDICTION

Clearly this mayor has a history of becoming inebriated with alcohol—which is a legal, mind-altering drug in liquid form—and we now know that he has driven under the influence, again by his own admission. According to the polls reported by the news, there are still some people who actually think Mr. Ford can continue to successfully act as the Mayor of Toronto and others who remain ‘undecided.’ I think we have to wonder how a person who regularly becomes drunk and stoned with an illegal substance can remain in office and do anything close to a good enough job. How deep is our own denial about that?

And if all that wasn’t enough, he has now made public statements disparaging women sexually. Who is this guy and why is he still in office? Clearly he has few behavioral boundaries and even fewer verbal filters.

For me, it is Mr. Ford’s third and societally sanctioned addiction that is the most immediate concern, as I believe it has become a life-or-death situation for him. However, because most people turn a blind eye to it, he is enabled to continue doing it. One look at both Mayor Ford and his brother, Doug, tells me that these men are chronic over-eaters, and have been for a long time. They are both ‘morbidly obese’, so designated because this eating disorder can very well kill them both.

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