Friday, December 7, 2018


It was November 20, 2018 when I met Youssef.

Just two weeks earlier flowers were still blooming in the gardens in Montreal so it was a bit of a shock to see the trees heavy laden with snow and powerful wind gusts blowing and bending the branches of the evergreens. I was expecting cold temperatures, but not a storm, not slushy streets.

I spent hours at a medical appointment. Bundled up, I called for a taxi to return home. The driver, Youssef, pushed the wheelchair close to the curb. I locked the brakes and I stepped ever so carefully to the open car door but, as I stepped off the curb, my foot slid in the slush and I careened, head first onto the front seat.

I wasn't hurt, but there I was, flat on my face, lying across the seat. Bound like a fish in a net by my puffy winter coat, arms outstretched, legs dangling out the door, I couldn't move.

And there was Youssef trying to untangle and free me. Not a very big man in stature, he tried to set me upright. I thought it would take more than one weight lifter to rescue me, but Youssef put his arms under mine and gently hauled my leaden body properly onto the seat. And we were on the way.

And we talked all the way about how one Muslim man using his "arms" was helping a handicapped Jewish-Christian woman. We talked about the state of this crazy world where Muslims and Christians and Jews are killing each other's children and evil rich and powerful people persuade us to buy bombs and guns to use against each other and enrich tyrants.

We talked about the patients back there in the hospital - human beings of every colour and religion and culture - all suffering from cancer and being treated by doctors of every race and origin using the same medicines - because we are all flesh and blood and we all feel pain.

But there were we, two people, strangers living in a peaceful country, but not in positions of power to save the children of Yemen, Syria, the "Holy" Land, Africa and other places. What could we do to save anyone?

Talk about it. Spread the word. While those who hold power spread lies and hate,  we can speak the truth to the world, to our friends, our family, our co-workers, our students, to those we encounter each day in passing.

We have Power. 

We have Arms that can be used to help, protect, comfort - embrace - to lift up when we fall flat on our face  - and when evil people are using their deadly arms to kill children. 


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