Standing By

My acting career was comprised of some great roles and a mishmash of acting-adjacent jobs. During this time, I worked for two different companies that used theatre to explore bigger issues with children and teens; issues like healthy relationships vs non-healthy relationships and bullying.

The first job I worked under this umbrella took place in Edmonton, Alberta. I had the pleasure of creating a play with a group of funny and fabulous artists with big hearts.

The second “hey kids, don’t be a bully” job I worked was for a company that hired me and one other performer to tour around to different schools in Southern Alberta performing a play they had written.

Ironically, that second company did not value the safety and well-being of their actors. To put it lightly, I had an unhealthy relationship with my boss who was across the country. He gave us a vehicle that didn’t pass inspection and could (probably) catch fire at any time. I was pregnant with my first rascal when I got that job and a little more sensitive regarding my personal safety. The heavy lifting and exposure to paint fumes required to do that job was the final tipping point and I quit.

But I digress.

My point is, I’ve got some experience with anti-bullying campaigns. I’ve put in the hours talking to kids ages 5 – 18 about healthy relationships. And every kid I know was devastated by the outcome of the recent election. They know a bully when they see one.

Before you yap at me about the DOW, I should tell you I’m not terribly interested in talking about the election in terms of the economy or the stock market. I’d much prefer to talk about humanity.

Since the election of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, there has been an increase in hate crimes. I’ve seen the evidence of this in the lives of people I care about.

One friend, who lives in Canada and happens to be a WOC, was recently harassed in a grocery store. You-Know-Who’s name was invoked, just in case you want to tell me the two issues are unrelated.

Another friend, who is gay and teaches a political class at an American university, was hauled off by the police last night and taken to a psych ward due to comments made in the classroom and on Twitter. I saw his tweets. I’m familiar with his teaching style. Nothing he said or did warranted these terrifying actions. He wasn’t inciting violence, there was no mention of harming himself or others. In short, HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN PROTECTED BY HIS FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS. He’s fine now, thankfully, and back at home.

Obviously, lesson one in the anti-bullying campaign I taught years ago was Don’t Be a Bully. Lesson two is equally important: Don’t Be a Bystander.

As we see a shift in our social climate, in our political climate–regardless of what country you live in, that is the very least we can do.

Dig in your heels on the right side of history. Don’t Be a Bystander.

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