Monkeys in the middle

By Vivian Collings

Timing is really incredible sometimes. Or should I say ironic?

If Head Lake Park actually had a head with a thinking brain, I wonder if it would be reeling like mine after all that occurred there this past week.

Like Emily Stonehouse says in her Minden Times editorial this week, I too am struggling to find all the proper words.

I’ve written and re-written this many times, but not as many times as I’ve thought about the protest held at that park last Wednesday, similar to hundreds of others across the country.

Around 100 people gathered at that park on one side for the 1 Million March 4 Children protest.

Around 100 others gathered on the opposite side of the parking lot for the Minden Pride counter-protest.

Only 100 metres of space separated the two groups physically, but ideologically, it felt like 100 thousand metres were between them.

The removal of COVID-19 mandates didn’t change the polarization of the county, the country, for that matter.

Now, it’s a different battle.

What concerns me most is that kids are the “monkeys in the middle.”

After witnessing the rally on Wednesday, I can’t lie about feeling ill, and sad, and afraid for those “monkeys in the middle.”

I was upset, and didn’t want to interact with anyone else that day. Some of the signs I saw marching through and the words I heard being exchanged left me in disbelief, and wondering how our little town can hold so much hostility, and rejection.

That one hour drained me for the next 24, and I’ve heard from others that it did the same.

Again, I wrote this editorial many times, wondering what parts to say out loud. How to get my words out. 

You can find endless news articles on similar protests.

In a world filled with hate and unacceptance, giving it more attention here feels counter-productive. 

I want to instead focus on the Head Lake Park playground in the midst of all of this.

On Saturday, that very same park was filled with joy.

Hundreds of kids, parents, grandparents, and friends gathered at the park to play on the new playground and to attend ColourFest.

With the harvest sun beaming down and a warm breeze enveloping the park coming from the lake, the collective feeling was the complete opposite from a few days before.

Many around me remarked on the sounds of that day.

Children’s laughter resounded through Haliburton.

All playing together, happily, safely. 

And parents watched. Some played, too. 

As I walked around with my camera in hand, taking it in, I couldn’t help but think some, if not all, of those adults would’ve stood on one side or the other on Wednesday.

But here they were, playing together, talking, smiling, with complete acceptance.

Just like their children were doing, too.

And that’s just it, isn’t it.

We need look no further than those kids on that playground. Treating each other equally, with complete acceptance, for exactly who they are.

And that playground is one of the best examples of why it’s important for kids to have a safe space to do so. That’s what cultivates a feeling of security, creativity, and joy – essential to growing healthily.

We can learn a thing or two about what it means to be loving and accepting humans from those monkeys.