It's very easy to fall into the trap of just shouting "People Are Dying Kim" when anyone says anything about the major changes we're witnessing right now that might not seem that major in the grand scheme of things. The cancellation of the oral exams for the LC is one of them. For years, we've been told that there absolutely cannot be another way to approach student assessments other than the current method; we must protect the integrity of the "meritocratic" (lol) Leaving Cert.
But actually, it turns out, you can cancel the exams and just give full marks.
We are told that you can't just release people from jail like it's nbd but it turns out you can. We are told that it isn't possible to do the entirety of our work from home - well if your work involves sitting in front of a computer all day, it turns out you actually can. We are told you can't have rent freezes, or a ban on evictions or a ban on cutting people's essential utilities off. But all of these things are possible too.
We are told that people never do anything unless it's for self-interest, and yet hundreds of mutual aid and community groups have immediately self-organised to ensure that the people in their communities who need support will get it. All of these things are possible.
We are told that the work that is valuable is conducted by the ones playing hacky sack in glass buildings in the Docklands, when actually, what is valuable are the people stacking shelves in supermarkets and pharmacies with no let up, and the ones who are nurses, and the ones who are home-help and going in every day without fail to clean and lift older people out of their beds; the people who are cleaning the corridors of the hospitals and the people who are flat out doing the admin of making sure the systems of essential services are actually working properly.
Being told we *must* always have exams that leave students one flashback short of a PTSD diagnosis, is as much about the integrity of the State as it is about the integrity of the Leaving Cert itself.
This is an absolutely poxy time, and I'm as terrified as anyone else. But the next time someone says to you "You can't do that. It just isn't possible," remember that it absolutely is.
Imagine it. What would happen if you woke up tomorrow and the leaving cert orals just didn't happen this year? What would happen if everyone with less than 3 months or 6 months or a year on their sentence was just...released? What would happen if the government decided, like in France and Italy, that you can't just evict someone in the middle of a global pandemic? That you can't be going about debt collection? That you can't be leaving people alone and desititute? What would happen if communities banded together to try and help each other, not because of a financial motivation, but because it is the right thing to do?
The sky doesn't fall in. We just go on about our lives.
Anything you are told is impossible is wrong.
This is an awful time to get through, but surely at the end we have to come out the other side....facing the mortgages and the rents and the 4 hour commutes and the 40-50 hour work weeks and whatever other devastation faces us at the end, and ask; do we really have to go back to that?
These are mad times but if we can mind each other now, we can mind each other afterwards.
⏩ Stiainín Ní Thiarnaigh is an anarchist and Irish language student, and is currently working from home