Showing Up

Today I’m planning to go to a “play-in” at my kids’ school. What is a “play-in”? you ask. I’m not entirely sure, but we are demonstrating our objections to recently announced cuts in education along with new risk-averse policies being enforced.

You see, Ontario has elected a conservative government headed by our very own Trump-wannabe. Recently the government has announced that it will make cuts to education that will raise class size and eliminate various supports.  But the final straw came when the school VP announced that kindergarteners and students in grades 7-8 were no longer allowed to play on the playground because it was only approved for ages 5-12. That’s when the play-in was organized, to which I’m going today.

A closer look at the play equipment regulatory body’s mandate suggests that 13-14-year-olds are actually fine to go on the play equipment, it’s just that the CSA isn’t responsible for anyone over age 12. Also, did I mention that obesity is on the rise here, like everywhere else? And we’re trying to get everyone to be more active? But nevertheless, our school board’s insurance lawyers apparently decided that the policy only covers kids ages 5-12.

As you can imagine, this was no small deal to La Neige. We are going to the play in, goshdarnit. This occassioned one of the many interesting conversations I’ve had with The Historian about protest. You see, I can get worked up about playgrounds, like everyone else. But what I really care about is cuts to education. But sometimes the protest that you want is not the one that is organized. So my request is SHOW UP TO THE DAMNED PROTEST, people.

Maybe it’s not the demonstration you wanted? Maybe the stated rationale is not exactly your position? Listen, why do you think that liberal snowflakes have trouble getting things done? Stop overthinking it, and SHOW UP TO THE PROTEST.

Perhaps your candidate was not nominated? Yeah, that must really stink. But you know what? You still need to SHOW UP at the polls.

Another example is that I recently went to a vigil in support of the victims of the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. It was a wonderful event, and I was so glad that I went, but I didn’t know that would happen in advance. The truth is that as much as I hate Islamaphobia, it’s not as important to me as other things. It doesn’t affect me in the same way as anti-semitism does. (I’m not proud of this, nor should I be.) Nevertheless, I showed up, and I hope that my family’s presence in some small way communicated that we cared, and we are grateful for our wonderful local Muslim community. SHOW UP.

Wow, this is really excellent advice.

I can even extend it to other things that involve me. For example, I have cancer, and it sucks. A big problem that people with cancer often have is that there friends don’t say anything about it or are afraid of saying the wrong thing or are afraid of seeing them. My advice here would be: just SHOW UP.

This advice is good for any issue at all–chronic illness, grief, you name it. You can send a card, you can bring brownies, or just bring yourself. You will not fix the underlying problem, but showing up will help. They will feel better, you will feel better.

Our culture sometime suggests that you shouldn’t do anything unless you fix the problem. But some problems have no fixes, or we don’t know what they are, or they are hard to accomplish. In truth, we are social creatures, and sometimes what we want is not to be alone, to have someone bear witness to what we’re experiencing or to validate our response. Sometimes you can’t fix the problem, but you can make someone feel less alone when you show up.