The Words Less Traveled: “Told You So”

It’s a common phrase all over the English-speaking world; “I told you so”. It’s usually used when one predicts something about to happen and others fail to heed the warning. They are words that we are told in premarital counselling it is probably best to avoid: and similarly with other partnerships. But they can be quite gratifying in many aspects of our competitive world, especially for guys (or so I’ve heard; I don’t think I’ve ever used them myself).

One of my followees (is that a word?) on Twitter recently posted such a comment with respect to Rob Ford. He wasn’t posting it himself, but in relation to one of his friends, John Barber (The Star, 2013), referencing activities as far back as 2006 (which would have preceded my return to Canada). They recognized his “buffoonery” almost a decade ago, yet we still actively voted him into office.

Personally, there are times when the last thing I want to say is, “I told you so.” It’s one thing to recognize patterns in the universe and be able to predict how things will probably go: and to have the power to invest or to change one’s life in keeping with those predictions. That is truly empowering. But if one doesn’t have the capacity to compensate for those predictions, being able to say, “I told you so” brings no joy, no fulfilment. For those who are familiar with the story of Cassandra in Greek mythology, they will recognize that being able to predict events without the power to change them can be heartbreaking.

So it is with Rob Ford. I remember exactly the event that tipped the scales for me; news of his DUI in the States to which he responded that he “forgot” (Globe & Mail, 2010), and the whole deceitful mess after that. That, for me, was enough to tip the scales; getting a DUI was bad enough, but lying about it was worse. (Turns out that those were just the tip of the ice berg.) I may not have agreed with the perspective of some of my previous leaders in the States (Mike Huckabee and George W. Bush come to mind), but at least I could respect them. This Ford guy was something else.

I only wish we had been wrong about Mr. Ford. I fully supported his “agenda” of saving money and being efficient, of keeping taxes as low as possible and expelling waste wherever it can be expelled. If we had been wrong and Mr. Ford had actually found some “gravy” to excise, everyone would have been happy: Toronto would have continued to be the powerhouse it has been for decades in relation to the worlds of politics, business, the arts, science, human rights and community relations. Instead, we’ve become the laughing stock of the global market. By making the tax dollar the point around which all else revolves, Mr. Ford has lost the very core of what makes Toronto great. I don’t think he ever understood it in the first place: as evidenced from his personal life. This is one of those times when there is no pleasure in being right: knowing that there was going to be a train wreck makes it no less agonizing when it actually comes.

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