For centuries society has affixed names and used labels that have created divisiveness, promoted discrimination and cast shame on things we don’t quite understand.
Whether it is equality, gay rights, race issues or complicated health issues, decades have been dedicated to education and building understanding with the hope of creating a world that is accepting of all.
At the centre of these movements has been a commitment to alter and eliminate commonly used language which was hurtful and offensive to those being marginalized. It is appalling to think of the words once used to describe and marginalize women, different races, sexual orientation or people with special needs.
If you meet Percy D’Souza today you will find it hard to imagine that he struggled with severe, treatment-resistant, psychotic depression.
Percy comes across as high energy, engaging and positive. And yet, just over a year ago, Percy was, as he puts it, ‘a living corpse’.
“I had given up on life,” he recalls. “I was consumed by shame, fear and hopelessness. I had come to believe that I was good-for-nothing, of no value to anyone.”
Brought up mostly in India in a middle-class family, Percy has had a relatively privileged education and a fairly successful career in healthcare sales and marketing.
At the age of 60, Rob felt it was time to finish his high school diploma.
It was always something he had hoped to achieve, but so often mental illness and other factors alter the path that so many take for granted.
“Life just got in the way,” he says.
After leaving school to help his family financially, Rob joined the Armed Forces serving as a cook in Petawawa. It was a career that would afford him the chance to travel and see Egypt and all of Europe.
After the military he did a number of odd jobs before landing with the Toronto Transit Commision (TTC).