GSAs, Curiosity, & Cynicism

Array of 3 photos of people standing with pride flags and signs at a rally. Text reads: "Without [cynicism], my curiosity revels in my privileges and permits me to question the world without questioning myself." www.reluctantmystcism.com

A rival political candidate in our upcoming provincial election announced that if he is elected, he will reverse the current government’s policy of supporting Gay/Straight, Queer/Straight Alliances (GSAs/QSAs). Essentially, he’ll allow teachers and school administrators to inform parents when their kids attend any such group on school grounds.

His announcement, while not unexpected, remains devastating. It’s provoking peaceful demonstrations across our province. I attended a rally/march Wednesday evening, the day after Jason Kenney announced his political plan for GSAs. Even with the palpable sense of urgency, it was a warm, friendly gathering declaring unequivocal support for LGBTQ2SIA+ youth, GSAs/QSAs. We were folks from all walks of life, parents, children, grandparents, teachers, caregivers, clergy folks, nonprofit workers, students, professionals; we hailed from all kinds of backgrounds, skin colours, genders, abilities, and orientations.

We all know that confidentiality within GSAs/QSAs is key to helping LGBTQ2SIA+ youth navigate life. Kids who have healthier, more open connections with their parents will tell them if they’re participating in a GSA. Not all kids have the option of coming out to their parents safely. Coming out is an intensely personal decision. No one has the right or authority to disseminate information that would force such a decision on anyone.

The rally itself rekindled a spark of curiosity in me. Curiosity staves off my cynicism. Like many folks, political machinations (including the rise of populism) has left me wrung out. Some days, I really don’t have a lot left in me to try and passionately care about who thinks what about my orientation or who I am or am not dating.

But cynicism is the right of the privileged. There are many more folks in the world who have never been given the briefest breath to give up. Why do I get to claim the luxury now? It’s up to me to discover what renews my spirit, step up, show up, and grow up. I know that when my curiosity about the world is cared for, that questioning fuels care.

It’s a good bit of self-knowledge to have.

For me, hope is the seedling of my own curiosity. When there’s faith in the promise of new life, I’m invigorated to continue wondering and exploring the world. When that hope is shrivelled or shaken, curiosity seems like the privilege of the overly optimistic. It’s an indulgence I can’t afford to luxuriate in. Cynicism takes over.

Cynicism isn’t bad overall. A healthy presence of it tempers my curiosity to ground my questions in reality. It keeps my feet from flying off into the sunset of idealism. Without it, my curiosity revels in my privileges and permits me to question the world without questioning myself.

When cynicism grows to take over curiosity, its ability to root me to the ground permanently soars to a monstrous level. I sense that monster howling in wait now. Spring, after all, still has equal measure of the dark as it does the light. The shadow side of humanity seems overpowering.

Every day, it seems, people are posting about tragic world events on social media — violence in New Zealand, the Netherlands, the Philippines; cyclones in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe; political strife in Canada and the United States. Growing evidence of extremism has people afraid and angry for their lives because of their neighbours, and the threat of conservatism in government has marginalised groups worried for their well-being.

It’s nothing new.

The global inundation of events might be new, but the old structures of white supremacy and alt-right violence are hardly surprising. New faces, but old, typical powers re-asserting their same old, same old bullshit.

And to think I even dared thought of giving up.

An informed curiosity is a perpetual, frustrating gift. Its joy and delight rests entirely on discovery, wisdom, and realisation. Yet it pushes me relentlessly. Its dynamism refuses rest in the defeat. It keeps me from deciding when it’s time to retreat from the world in a huff. It is a holy aggravation. It won’t shut up.

Can one be eternally grateful for holy aggravations?

I hope so.

Without that nugget of protest towards wonder, I may have simply wilted in fundamentalism — faded away without a whimper. Without that pressing urgency, I may remained in atheism, convinced of only the empirical realities of life. It was curiosity that refused to allow me to give up on finding out more, going deeper, choosing the higher imagination that created the shining threads of this universe. That higher imagination is the substances of my life even as it tantalises me with holy dissatisfaction.

Will we win our fight for safe, confidential GSAs/QSAs? I don’t know. There’s a lot of anger in Alberta right now, keeping people focused on money rather than humanity. Whatever the outcome, may my curiosity continue to spread forward. May it fuel a grounded, true desire to learn more behind what’s going on for people. May it shape my attention, my listening, my very core.

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On a slightly different note, my friend David Cole is participating in leading a Celtic Summer School through the Community of St. Aidan and Hilda this August. It’s promising to be an excellent event, including Ray Simpson, Kenneth McIntosh, and many more. If you’re in the area or are planning to travel this summer, why not sign up? Cheers!

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