Vivaldi, the great Venetian composer, known as the "Red Priest," did most of his work at the Ospedale della Pietà, an orphanage for poor and illegitimate children.
Now, centuries later, almost every day and night, you can hear a local group play Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" there.
If you walk around the side of the beautiful church facade, you can still find the opening in the wall where women who knew or feared that they could not care for their babies could leave the infant to be cared for.
This provision of a safe haven for babies in such dire circumstances has been around in most countries in the world since practically forever.
Now, Vancouver will be the first city in Canada to revive this very practical but troubling tradition.
St. Paul's Hospital has created a "baby drop off."
A bassinet near the ER will be alarmed so that staff will be immediately alerted if someone has left a baby there.
The mother will not be subject to arrest.
This is in many ways a reasonable response to an ugly reality.
But it is at the same time deeply disturbing.
First, I found myself shuddering as I listened to some young enthusiastic policeman saying repeatedly on the radio yesterday that this initiative would make things "easier" for the woman in trouble.
Is that our job?
To make things "easier" for people to not care for their own babies?
Second and finally...
I am sitting here today at the age of 67 writing this piece because that many years ago, my mother made a courageous choice and lived up to its challenges.
My mother chose to be a single parent and to raise her child.
She did this in 1942 and in the milieu of an orthodox Old World Jewish family.
She passed on to me, among other things, life, food and shelter, endless curiosity, humour, and a deep sense of social justice.
Not much was "easier" for her.
But here we are, having this conversation.
Maybe as we continue on this path of accommodation, we will soon be providing a place to drop off your baby and right there a place to safely inject some free heroin.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Before using BLAAST-OFF, please consult your doctor.
BLAAST-OFF is not advised for people with 10 toes, plumbers or bridge players holding more than 27 high card points and aiming for a small slam.
Be advised that using BLAAST-OFF may result in loss of rental property, the ability to appreciate baroque music - in particular the fugue - and control over a neighbour's toy poodles.
If you are pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant or deeply jealous of all women at the supermarket who are pregnant, BLAAST-OFF is not a sharp idea.
Remember that using BLAAST-OFF could cause some of your favorite body parts and organs to simply halt by the roadside.
BUT...in every other conceivable way, BLAAST-OFF is a modern miracle, it is practically the second coming of You Know Who and you should consider yourself among the privileged few that you can get your snivelly little paws on some.
Posted by David Berner at 9:33 AM
It couldn't happen to a nicer government.
Hoisted on their own petard.
The Gordo gang was poised to spend $2 Million of your tax dollars - money that could have gone to music programs in schools, for example - on a modest little mail-out to tell us stupid peons what a savory and good thing is the HST.
Elections B.C. has declared that a foul ball and it is simply something up with which it will not put.
Colin Hansen is fuming and he wants a copy of all Elections B.C. rulings in the past 400 years dropped on Bill van der Zalm's head.
Posted by David Berner at 9:21 AM