Here’s what I believe.
I believe that everything and everyone is connected.
I believe that we are distinct points that are joined together. The connections may be steel beams, or gossamer threads. It may look like a perfectly spun spider web, or like a bulletin board on a crime show with red yarn thumbtacked to suspect photos and pieces of evidence. It doesn’t really matter whether we like the things and the people we are joined to or not – we are all connected. I like to think it helps keep the universe intact(ish).
A couple of days ago my sister-in-law and I (steel beam, somewhat disorganized bond) were together, protesting a protest. The initial protest was a group of individuals (not sure of the consistency of their connections) who take issue with the schools teaching inclusivity and acceptance to kids, as they interpret that as pornographic and grooming and other ridiculously arbitrary things. The protest that my sister-in-law and I joined, was a protest of those protestors – we are in favour of teaching kids’ inclusivity and acceptance (one of many reasons why we have a steel beam). I’m not going to write about the opposing views, how damaging and destructive they are. Others who are much more articulate and eloquent than I have done that, and I don’t really have anything more to add.
But, while I was standing there, waving my rainbow scarf and dancing to the 2slgbtq protest playlist, I got to thinking about distinct points, and connections. And then I started thinking about the space between the distinct points, the spaces where the connections exist, and how it’s an emotional space. A political space. A psychological space. A spiritual space. And looking at the separation between our two protests, I got to thinking about how our humanness, our fear and anger, has created a no man’s land between us where we are afraid to tread and talk and examine our connections.
And then a woman from the “other side” approached my sister-in-law and myself. She was respectful and thoughtful, and asked if we could talk about her concerns and our perspective. She shared that she was anxious about her child being prematurely introduced to subjects that she felt he was unprepared for, and her concern about reading materials, and about how to keep her child safe.
We talked about suicide rates for trans youth and understanding that not all children identify with their assigned gender, and that keeping our children safe meant that we have to keep all children safe. We were joined in conversation by a person who shared their transition journey, and their experience in school. How inclusivity made them feel valued, and that it probably saved their life.
The discussion was calm and very civil. And maybe some change will result. Or maybe not. Maybe seeds were planted and will grow. Or maybe not, especially if my inability to garden is taken into consideration. Either way, I left with a good feeling. Not only has the thin connection that existed between all of us became somewhat more substantial, but we all stood in that no mans land, in a place of unease and awkwardness, and were able to, at least momentarily, create an atmosphere of understanding, support and kindness.