Are There No Prisons?

“Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” These are the questions Scrooge asks when he faces poverty early in A Christmas Carol. Michael Shapcott, the Director of Affordable Housing and Social Innovation, began his talk this morning to the Upper School boys with this reference to Dickens.

After Scrooge’s metanoia, though, he does two things: First, he gives Bob Cratchet a turkey. And second, he gives him a raise. Schapcott encouraged his audience to think about following the same plan. The turkey is a response to the short term need, but the raise (wage inequality) is a long term issue.

Healthcare, housing, and education are challenges in Toronto, as they are in most big cities. But Shapcott advised our boys to grapple with these issues. “Remember, that tackling these issues may create problems. There was that church that opened its doors for a weekly breakfast for the homeless. The neighbours protested and took them to court. So be prepared for all of the tension you will face, and continue to ask yourself the big questions: Why is there poverty? What can I do about it?”


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