Social media has been in a tizzy over the past few days, and I typically have very little reasons to dive into the fray. I noticed a common thread among the most popular recent stories, and I could not stop myself from writing about it. Why not jump right back into writing with something a tad controversial, eh?
Today the US honors one of its historical heroes. I use the word honor lightly because unless you’re from an area or organization that truly celebrates the life of Dr. King, today is typically just used as another excuse for sleeping in, or a quick road trip. As an Atlanta native, I grew up seeing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day as marked by observance, celebration, and service. There are still events held throughout the city on this day each year, with the most well-known at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Such gatherings celebrate the life, and legacy of Dr. King, as well as encourage the advancement of his message of love. I can remember using this day to help in food pantries, deliver goods to shelters, or complete other service projects. I don’t know about your area, but I do not find a great focus on service in many communities today, and I see nothing more than a short blurb about Dr. King, and the Civil Rights Movement, in most curricula. This makes me sad.
I try to imagine what impact Dr King, and others would have, had they allowed their hearts to become complacent and comfortable. He didn’t have to return to the racially oppressive south after completing his doctorate, but he did. He didn’t have to keep going after being arrested, or receiving multiple death threats, but he did. The many people of the Movement didn’t have to organize, and find ways to serve the communities around them, but they did.
America is still greatly divided, and it is easy to find blame in one community or another. The question remains: what will YOU do? How do you conduct yourselves, and speak of others, around your children? What do you teach them about the world, and its history? Do you show respect for leaders, even if you disagree with them? Do you stand against the mistreatment of anyone, even if you disagree with them? Do you seek to serve those around you, and find ways to make your part of the world a better place? Do you try to learn about others before seeking to judge them?
Dr. King, and many like him, had difficult choices to make. I must admit that my first reaction to any threat is to circle the wagons, and protect my household. The leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, however, did not make that choice. They circled towns, churches and schools, crossed bridges and counties, to protect all people. They stood still in their faith, and on the belief that love conquers hate. They remained resolute, and braved inhumane opposition, to stand still, and sing Oh, Freedom.
I hope that many citizens of our great nation will stop resting on the myths of a post racial society,* and be still. Be still? Yes, I mean be still. Be like a tree, that is planted by the water, and be unmovable, unshakeable. Do not allow someone to tell you that another human being doesn’t matter, or doesn’t deserve access to services, or treatment. Be still in knowing that God really did create all humans being equally; the thoughts, laws, and systemic practices of men are what created division. Be still in knowing that love in action conquers hate, knowledge in action conquers ignorance, and faith in action conquers fear.
When you see injustice, inequality, unethical treatment or behavior, do not rest in the comfort and safety of your own home and accomplishments. Instead, stand against the storms of ignorance and hate, and speak, “Peace! Be still.” Take the time today, and always, to be still, and allow love, and freedom to ring in your life, home, and community.
If you would like ideas on how to serve your community, ways to connect with various organizations, or pledge time throughout the year, take a look at the Corporation for National & Community Service.
* I must say that if you believe, for even a moment, that the use of this phrase is accurate or appropriate in conversation, you’ll get a very long list of library books, historical and current information from me.
Today’s thoughts from the school carpool line:
I sincerely pray that the squabbling elected officials will either give up their own salaries and benefits during the standoff, or consider what their current tantrum of a shutdown will ultimately do to their constituents. I am not making light of the situation, or taking the “side” of either party, but it stands to reason that “shutting down” the government will only bring more harm than good. If I were a betting person, I would bet that many of those posturing in front of the cameras may very well be out of their jobs soon.
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Everyone has been buzzing about the creative way in which Marina Shifrin quit her job.
Some people are using this as an excuse to go bananas at their current jobs. Don’t be silly: you can’t use company time and resources to tell your employer “screw you” unless…well…you’re in Congress.
I have witnessed many ways of how to leave (or be asked to leave) a job. How would you tell your boss goodbye? Would you resign dramatically, or devise a plan to get canned with hopes of a severance deal?
Until next time,
This has been quite the challenging spring. The Bald Genius has been away for military obligations, and Superkid-O really had a rough time adjusting to his absence. I am a protective parent by nature, but my protectiveness is augmented by any level of discomfort in my kid. He is only 5, and I naively believed that I could shield him from one of the harshest realities of living in this country…for at least a few more years.
We had a beautiful day at church yesterday. We ran into old and new friends, and hugged several people as we exited the building. While in front of our church, a person noticed Superkid-O’s shirt. It had a wild and crazy surfboard theme, with jungle animals on it. The person turned to my son and asked,”is that a monkey on that surfboard, or is that you?” Time stood still, and yet I only had a split second to decide what my reaction should be. Do I punch this moron in the throat for insulting my kid? Do I call him out on his ignorance in using such a ridiculous, and clearly racially insensitive comparison? Do I calmly educate him, and hope that my kid isn’t upset? I noticed that Superkid-O didn’t react, and was blissfully playing next to me. It was not the time to break out my kung fu grip. I calmly as possible let the person know that the question was inappropriate.
I elected to be dignified in the face of indignity, and modeled grace in return for disgrace. Why? Reacting violently would only perpetuate the common thought “see, I told you they were all violent.” Here’s the challenge: the person didn’t consider the comment to be racist or offensive. The person has been alive for many more years than I have, and witnessed the ridiculous exchanges between white and brown people in the southern region of the USA. This person should know better. The fact is, the person, like so many in this country, will never be forced to know better or care. Why? Because it is acceptable in this country to believe the negative, project the inhumane, mock or insult, and call it freedom of speech. It is acceptable to tell a joke, just as long as the punchline isn’t about ourselves. Many of us are guilty of this. It is funny, or okay to say and do, until it hits home.
My Superkid-O is beautiful, brilliant, courageous, compassionate, and humorous. He loves people, is proud of his family, loves his beautiful brown skin, and thinks that he wants to be President of the USA, an astronaut, and a racecar driver… I am sure that those career goals will change many times before he grows up. What I doubt will ever change is the notion that many people have in this region – – there is no need to think before speaking, care before acting, or research the truth before believing. I would love to dream that he will be respected for his mind, and loved for his heart, but I was sadly reminded that he will first, foremost, and most often only be seen by his skin color. And that makes me one mad momma.
Thanks to the WordPress iPhone app, my super awesome posts have vanished into thin air. I am not a happy camper, but I cannot unscramble eggs. I also cannot unscramble all of the mixed messages and divisive platforms of the various candidates and supporters. Soon this election will be over, and it will either result in the reelection of the current President, or welcome a new one. Whatever the outcome, I hope that all Americans find a way to communicate with civility, and consider the examples which are being set for our posterity.