For those who do not know what Regent Park is, allow me to explain. Regent Park is an area of project housing on the east fringe of downtown. Meant to be low rent housing, it is forever synonymous with crack whores, drug dealers and gangs. A forever and infinitely poor district.
I use to live on the other side of the Don River, in the much more civil and middle class Riverdale Area. For those of you who watched the soap opera "Riverdale", this is the real thing. I always figured I'd never live or have to deal with Regent Park. Now I live right beside it.
My home, is a good neighbourhood, the Co-op itself is excellent. Moving in several months ago was a harrowing experience. The first week I slept with my martial arts weapons and machete in easy reach. I knew I was initiated and welcomed into the neighbourhood when I walked right through a drug deal in front of my Co-ops entrance.
A fat wad of cash is exchanged with a baggy, and here I come, walking right through it with an "excuse me." Less than a week later I was up late playing Counter-Strike Online when my girlfriend remarked, "Did you just hear that? That sounded like gunshots."
I barely turned away from my game at hand.
"Hmm. Nah..." Was my only reply.
Back I went to shooting virtual online Counter-Terrorists with my AK-47. Nummy.
Three-Thirty in the morning, cops are all around the Co-op. Sure enough, the local drug dealer, who I had walked by only a week before, was dead. I found the following week hilarious. A miniature shrine was set up where he was shot.
Flowers and everything littered the area. "We'll Miss you." plastered all over it. Regent park seemed to weep for the loss of its outstanding denizens. I inwardly laughed, then restarted the Safety and Security Committee.
Ah the fun I've had. Its the classical situation, everyone bitches, yet no one is willing to help. Hey I don't mind. I get some satisfaction for at least trying. I once attended a meeting for Community and Police Relations and it was quite remarkable. I was surrounded by the upper middle class who wanted the poor to be cleaned up and out of the way.
One of the highlights was that they wanted the poor to stop "public urination." They even managed to shut up the local Salvation Army Captain when he remarked that "these crack whores and addicts are people too." After all, he did freely allow them to use his meeting room in HIS Salvation Army building. It?s ironic, really.
Regent Park is a way of living. Living beside it, I have learned to have little pity for those who dwell in it. My reasoning? Simply because they choose to live there. Choice is one of the things we all have. Some, if not all of the people around me have made choices that lead them to be in the sump area of Toronto. I?m just lucky enough to be beside it, not in it.
That drug dealer who impetuously was dealing in the open, got his ass shot off. That idea makes me smile. Life ain?t that bad now. But if you consider every little decision, being Fated to a life doesn?t seem so true. Life is what we make of it.
The culture down here is alien. It is a counter-culture. Frankly I wish the went ahead with the plan to bulldoze the area. Put up a bunch of townhouses, since they seem to be springing up everywhere in the city. At least it would evenly spread the crack whores and poor across the city. That way everyone would see it, instead of it simply swept under the municipal rug.
Besides, it would give the city a nice equal feeling to it. You cannot eliminate the concept of poor or poor people. They will exist and survive. It?s human nature. It is also human nature to care only oneself. The extent of caring only extends to a person when it directly affects them.
I find myself in a happy medium between them. Middle class and poor. It?s kinda like a cheesy episode of those cop shows. The cops move in, the druggies, and drug dealers hide. When the cops go, everyone comes out of hiding. I am lucky enough to get front row seating to Regent Park. For some odd reason my Co-op is an untouched jewel.
So when you actually see a poor person begging for change, do yourself and society a favour look at them carefully. Are they just obnoxious little teens doing it for fun? Because if they are, give them the friggin? boot to the head for wasting your time. Being poor doesn?t mean they deserve your pity. Even pity is a commodity these days.