Saturday, 1 June 2013

Stéphane Richer and Michael Landsberg take on a worthy cause

Former Montréal Canadien Stéphane Richer and TSN host Michael Landsberg met for the first time while preparing for an episode of the latter's "Off The Record" show.  Since then, they have teamed up to take up the cause of mental illness, attempting to convince those who are suffering that it's okay to seek help.

For me, the Stéphane Richer story is a little shameful personally.  As a young punk, me and my friends and the population of Québec made fun of him mercilessly, in private or on open-lines radio show, we mocked his halting interviews, his acne-ridden complexion, his inelegant speaking style, in either language.  The comedy troupe "Rock et Belles Oreilles" were unflinching in their savage lampooning of him, and we all piled on.  If one of us messed up on the ice, we'd all mimic the voice on the bench or in the dressing room and tried to explain what happened.

"J'voulais passer l'puck, mais j'ai oublié..."

Years later, we miss Stéphane and wonder what could have been, if he'd received the appropriate support, and if mental illness and depression had been been a subject that was discussed openly and less stigmatized.

This lesson, and a few others, bring into focus the issue of bullying, and I think we as a society miss the mark on educating ourselves how to put a stop to it.  To me, the easy lesson is to teach children, both at home and in school, that picking on people is not cool, period.  You don't have to be best friends with everyone, but you do have to be treat people with decency and care, even the kid who doesn't play well with others.  As Morrissey sang:

"It's easy to laugh, it's easy to hate, it takes strength to be gentle and kind."

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