I’m thinking of drugs and fallen heroes. Do you remember Steven Fonyo, the young man who finished Terry Fox’s cross country run? It has me remembering back about forty years ago. That’s when I was in my late twenties, raising two children, and still had dreams to chase. I was in line in a grocery store behind a cart loaded to overflowing with groceries. The cart was being pushed by a youngster who was about seven years old. Upon his mother finishing unloading the groceries onto the mechanized, rubber belt, the boy said to the mother, “Mommy, may I have my pack of the spearmint gum please?”
The mother curtly responded, “No.” To which the young boy replied, “But mommy I’ve been good and you promised you would buy me a package of spearmint gum if I behaved.”
The mother turned to her son and nonchalantly replied, “I changed my mind.”
I was dumbfounded at the lesson this woman was teaching her child about the value of one’s word. Most of all I was angry though. So I quickly grabbed a package of spearmint gum from the candy display adjacent to the check out belt and handed it to the young man while telling the cashier to put it on my bill. Then I turned to the mother and said, “Shame on you; you don’t have the right to change your mind.” The woman didn’t say a word to me, but instead, just turned away and went about her business.
Honor, once earned, is forever
I want to say the same thing to the Government of Canada about taking back the Order of Canada honour it bestowed upon Steve Fonyo. “Shame on you; you don’t have the right to change your mind.”
The Order of Canada is bestowed based on something that the individual accomplished. It is not based on what the individual will accomplish. Therefore, just as with that young child at the grocery store, Steven Fonyo did exactly what he had set out to do. And when he earned the Order of Canada, it should have been forever.
Steven Fonyo was our hero and he never hurt Canada, only himself
What Fonyo accomplished, in the eyes of our country brought honor to our country, hence his recognition. Fonyo’s slide downhill into drug addiction did not dishonor Canada. It dishonored Fonyo. In my viewpoint, what our country did by taking back the award, dishonored Canada. We told the world that Canada giveth and Canada taketh away. The Lord giveth and The Lord taketh away, but Canada should not.
Emmulating the U.S. with the currently unfolding story about journalist Brian Williams, Canada is also great at building up heroes and even better at tearing them down afterward.
Drugs today cannot take away what he did yesterday
I hate drugs, but my loathing for drugs, despite Fonyo’s recent problems, does not mean that he did not do what he did in the spirit of Terry Fox. Accordingly, the decision of Canada to take back his Order of Canada is an attempt to strip him of the honor he legitimately earned. After all, if it was not legitimately earned, and nobody questions that it was, then it should never have been awarded to start with.
Yes, Steven Fonyo has involved himself in illegal activities since his great feat, but to those who took his Order of Canada from him, I say, “Walk a mile in his shoes.” Actually I should say to them, “Walk a mile in his shoe.” Without making excuses for him, I cannot imagine living with one leg and at the same time trying to continually earn the right to the Order of Canada every day. Isn’t that what the taking of his award meant was expected of him?
His lifestyle may rob him of his chance to be his own hero again
Now sadly, from Surrey comes word that Steven Fonyo lays in the hospital near death. He is in a medically induced coma after having been stabbed in the back in what the police say was a targeted hit. That is twice now that he has been stabbed in the back. The first it was by the Government of Canada. This time it was by three thugs who were probably sent to his home because of a drug debt. This is where drugs lead; this is where drugs have always led.
To Steve Fonyo I say, “Congratulations on your triumphant run. You should always be proud of it. I hope you survive this stabbing, and if you do, I hope you find the strength to turn your life around. You can again become the man of your youth; that man still exists within you. You are just allowing the drugs you take in order to chase away your demons, to also put that man in hiding. May he re-emerge and may God bless you.”
Let’s take this viral and raise our collective voice until Steven Fonyo and the world hears us. It’s a message, not just for Mr. Fonyo, but all those who seek reassurance that there is a reason in their life for recovery. Thank you and follow me for more.