Friday, August 10, 2012

GOP* before my time

I hate themed days. I hate the expectation that I need to congratulate birthdays, and birth days, especially with something more creative than "Happy Birthday" or "Congratulations on being a mammal" (these cards are particularly hard to find).

Don't get me wrong, I like me a good birthday ice-cream face-cake. Who doesn't? And I love getting (and sometimes even, giving... I'm that generous) Christmas prezzies, sharing a special day with loved ones.  But when people feel the need to publicly shout across Facebook or send out group messages to anyone who happens to be on their mailing list, I want to give them a cyber-slap and tell them to go back indoors and appreciate their family.

And I especially hate having it forced down my throat en mass. A day when I'm expected to dramatically demonstrate that I love someone, a day to publicly declare that I have a mother. Another one a few months later to make sure no one forgets that they have a father. Womens' Day. Where everyone kindly feels the need to recognise that I have lady-parts and therefore must somehow be congratulated and have an extra special day accordingly.

I think we may have lost the point somewhere. I love my parents and I certainly will thank them on Mother and Fathers Day - I do get that point. But I don't know why everyone needs to know that I have told my parents that I appreciate them.

Similarly, Womens' Day is not meant to acknowledge the fact that I happen to have a vagina, it's meant to acknowledge a day in history when largely-unheard members of the public (who remain largely-unheard and unrepresented to this day), made their Apartheid objections known in an eerily silent demonstration. Womens' Day recognises the danger that these women put themselves and their children in. Wishing me Happy Womens' Day via Facebook or email means nothing. I understand the gesture, but I struggle to fight down the rage to refrain from replying in a tirade as to how patronising the sender sounds.

There is one birthday I do support - Nelson Mandela Day. Rather than just posting messages (which will happen anyway.. in this case I understand, a personal message isn't really an option), people arrange to be involved in their communities. It's only an hour, but something is actually done. Small though the gesture might be in the big scheme of problems, awareness is raised for various community needs.

Maybe National Womens' Day should have a similar call to action. Instead of just saying "Happy Womens' Day!", we should be called to volunteer for women who still need assistance. It doesn't even have to be physical help, even something as simple as a small donation, like this. Then you can go back to your day off of slothing on the couch and congratulating female friends for having bajingoes.

Maybe every themed-day should have a similar call to action. A general rubbish collection clean up on Heritage Day, you know... to protect our heritage going forward.

Volunteering at orphanages for mother and fathers' day - giving those who don't have parents (to take advantage of every other day) a day of love. Speaking of love, Valentines Day. Urgh. But maybe it would be fitting to volunteer at a shelter on or around this day - I'm guessing not much would make you appreciate a true loved one more than seeing how other people are treated by those who they think love them.

Wouldn't it be awesome if, instead of seeing a leery middle-aged drunkard stumbling around a pub at 4pm in the afternoon, his friends apologetically shrugging and excusing him with, "what you gonna do, it's his 40th, a man's gotta celebrate"... if, instead, we got used to the sight of groups of families and friends doing something together in the community. You can still have your drinks and party afterwards, but you can also say that for one or two hours, you picked up rubbish, or you handed out food packages, or you re-painted a jungle gym. I think I quite like the idea.

Not everyone would participate, and certainly not many people would give up every public holiday for manual labour, but I would love to see the general expectation become an hour of community involvement (of your own choice), rather than a general Facebook shout-out recognising the day followed by "... and now, back to the couch" subtext.

*Grumpy Old Person, way before my time.