Friday, 15 April 2011

Vow of Silence Follow-Up

Okay, so I said no blogging... but, I think that it is more important to share my experience than refrain from blogging just for the sake of saying I didn't communicate all day.

So did I keep my vow? In grade nine I attempted the Vow of Silence and I lost my phone while walking, so I had to "pause" the vow in order to find my phone. No, I wasn't using my phone, but I had it on me in case of emergency and it fell out of my pocket. Another Vow of Silence came at the beginning of grade ten, only it was for Free the Children. I showed everyone a sheet of paper explaining what I was doing, and showing a few facts about child poverty throughout the world. Many people tried to get me to talk. I didn't appreciate it. I added to the slip of paper: "By trying to make me talk and break my vow you are not supporting the cause and are just being annoying." Despite my efforts, I ended up saying "hi" to a stranger on the street and saying "thanks" when my teacher handed me back my summative. I felt disappointed with myself and so I accidentally said a whole sentence to my parents. I also was writing many things down so as to be understood (which completely defeats the purpose of the vow). So I messed up, but I still think that it was better for me to go on with the vow for as long as I could rather than forget the whole thing like half the people who start the vow but give up by first period.

This time, however, I managed to stay silent the whole day, except for one word: "ya". But I don't think I'm going to count it because it was barely audible. I had just finished reading a beautiful story when my friend asked me, "Isn't that a sweet story?". I decided to forget about it and continue for the day, so I really hope everything goes well for the rest of the night.

One thing bothered me though today. I constantly heard people making fun of gay people. It bothers me that I became so used to hearing these comments that it took a day like today to pick them out from the rest. I bet some people hear homophobic comments on a regular basis, but I didn't think I usually did. There are different ways of degrading gays. I used to define it in my head as insulting a gay person based on their sexuality. But today I realized that it's not just insulting gay people; it's calling a straight person gay; it's saying "that's so gay". Many people don't realize how these other comments are hurtful. Calling someone gay if they have not told you that they are gay is like calling a First Nations person an Indian. What's so wrong with calling them an Indian? What's wrong with calling a straight person gay? The person might not necessarily think being gay or being an Indian a bad thing. The difference is that it has a negative connotation by definition and that they are not what you are calling them. Also, saying "that's so gay" is said when something is wrong or stupid or annoying, which insults any gay person by associating being gay with being wrong, stupid, or annoying. Why can't we come up with something more intelligent to say than "that's so gay"? Why not say "that's so wrong/stupid/annoying"?

My English teacher had an interesting idea. She thought that everyone should go around today shouting about gay rights and accusing those who bully gay people and make mean comments. I think that this might sometimes be effective, but not necessarily. For one thing, I doubt if many other teachers would appreciate yelling and vicious arguments in the middle of class. I think that the Vow of Silence is like peaceful protesting. People (especially those who like to talk a lot, like me) will get noticed if they don't breathe a word for a whole day. Eventually enough people will notice, and discrimination will begin to cease.

Despite my criticism, my school at the very least has come a long way. There are several openly gay and lesbian people, which means that at least some people are not afraid to be themselves. Kudos to them!

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