“When people become more concerned with the gratification of their own appetites than with their responsibilities to society, the days of that civilization are numbered.”
– Le Déclin de l’Empire Américain, Denys Arcand (1986)
In 2011, one only needs to listen to the headlines – be they international, national, provincial, or municipal – to hear the signs of imperial decay, as the signifiers that once held their identity in the polis, such as citizen, have come to be usurped by the ubiquitous taxpayer. The difference between the two is striking. Whereas the signifier citizen contains within it an understanding of the responsibilities that one’s belonging to a polis entails, a taxpayer assumes no such responsibility. A taxpayer is a consumer, one who pays a fee and expects a service in return. Or, perhaps as Arcand realized several decades earlier, a taxpayer is more consumed with her own appetites, a citizen with her obligations to others. Continue reading →
Mary Jo Leddy, The Other Face of God: When the Stranger Calls Us Home (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2011).
Reviewed by Ashely Cole
“If you looked me in the eyes and challenged us both about our impossible dreams for justice and peace, I would say yes dream on for there is a little street called Wanda Road where strangers sometimes become neighbors.”
-Mary Jo Leddy
Every year the Canadian population increases by 250,000 people. Many of those newcomers arrive as refugees and spend the next year to three years navigating the sometimes treacherous seas of immigration. More often than not, the faces we see on the bus and in the work force look less and less like us. Immigration is becoming the face of Canada, and how we deal with and understand Canadian immigration is to, in essence, understand a part of Canadian identity.
If one of these newcomers showed up on your front step with nothing but their suitcase and their child, what would you do? Call the police? Send them somewhere else? Or would you open your door and invite them in? Well this is exactly what Mary Jo Leddy did twenty years ago when she began what has become known as Romero House, a transitional housing and settlement office located in the west bend of Toronto. Not only did she open her door, she began a movement, modeled after this practice of creating space to allow a stranger to become a good neighbor. Continue reading →