Toronto
3 min

Shaking off complacency

And living up to good intentions

Credit: Xtra files

The other day an activist friend was trying to impress upon me the dangers of letting up pressure on the same-sex marriage issue. She was arguing that despite December’s favourable ruling by the Supreme Court the success of a federal bill on the matter is anything but certain.



On one hand I’m thinking, well, what is certain in this life? Even a law that’s been passed can always be repealed again. Rights granted can always be withdrawn. It’s not as though there’s ever an end to it.



I shudder to think that there are people who believe that a federal marriage law is the end of the line for queer liberation. If anything, it’s one of those stops along the way that gets service because affluent folks live there. And chances are it’s one of those stops where you drop more people off than you pick up. It’s not as though the white picket fence faction will be staying onboard for the fight to repeal the bawdy-house laws, for example.



On the other hand, I know what she’s getting at. Even the folks who really want this thing are slacking off now that we’re in the homestretch. And those of us who are ambivalent, who are all for queer rights but wouldn’t touch marriage with a 10-foot pole, are more than happy to believe that it’s a done deal and focus on the things that are more personally relevant.



Complacency is a very seductive thing. It creeps in when you aren’t looking, settling in alongside comfort and apathy. It gets built into the day-to-day routine and built up with little everyday distractions. It’s there in all of the mundane moments that take up so much of life but somehow get in the way of living.



As I look back on the last year, I’m dismayed at how many of my good intentions came to nothing. There were too many missed opportunities, instances when I didn’t take the time to register my concerns or argue for something I believe in or stop and buy flowers for my girlfriend or call my grandmother, little things that might have made a difference, in my own life and for the people around me.



Like so many people right now I’m struck by how uncertain life is. After the tsunami struck I was worried sick about a friend who was vacationing in Thailand for the holidays. With every day that passed I became more and more resigned to the idea that I might never hear from her.



I know I haven’t been alone in this. With the number of people still missing after the disaster there must be millions of people in this situation, worrying about their friends and family, waiting for word that might never come. (One Xtra contributor has flown to Indonesia to search for his parents, who were also on vacation and have yet to be located. Think good thoughts for him.)



I feel very lucky given the circumstances. I finally heard from my friend today. She’s safe, but shaken by how close she came to death. I’m feeling rather shaken myself. The experience has left me thinking about how much I take for granted.



If there’s anything good that can come out of the tragedy it’s that the living recognize that life is too short to waste. I know it’s cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true.



So I’m folding this lesson into my new year’s resolutions. I’ve let my friend know just how much she means to me, and how much I would have missed her if I’d lost her. I plan to do the same for all of the people I love, to let them know how important they are and how thankful I am to have them in my life.



I’m also vowing to shake off the complacency that’s accumulated in my life. To get off my ass and do all of the things I’ve been putting off. Including calling my MP.



* Julia Garro is Xtra’s associate editor.



For more on tsunami damage and tsunami relief, see the next item.