The Good Fight
Anyone that has known me long enough knows I am a fighter. And by fighter I mean someone with passion, conviction, tenacity, heart, soul, strength, courage, action-oriented, doesn’t rest on any laurels and a goes all in kind of human being. It was all of the things both of my ex-husband’s were drawn to when we first met. It was also all of the things they probably wish they hadn’t been drawn to when we were going through our subsequent divorces.
Here’s the thing…I may be a real pain in the ass when I feel I have to stand my ground and go to the mat, but if I have learned anything in my 50+ years on this planet it is that you want someone like me in your life when stuff needs to get done and you yourself do not have the energy to fight the fight. And maybe going through a divorce is not the best example of a “good fight”, but I am still going to argue that we all must do what we have to do to get through some really tough times.
I just wish some fights didn’t have to get so ugly and dirty.
And here we are, January 20, 2020, the day we are honoring the legacy of one Martin Luther King Jr., a gentleman and a very gentle man who was all about the “good fight” during a time in our nation’s history that united so many over a very divided issue.
Decades later we are still a country needing ways to be united in a “good fight” over the things that are dividing us. And no, I am not here to pick a political battle with anyone because I really do not believe anything I will say will ever change someone else’s mind who is hell bent on standing their ground. That said, I like MLK Jr. still believe in speaking out because, well, remaining silent? Again, if you know me you know that isn’t an option. I may not ever draw crowds of people to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial or have millions of social media followers but I have fingers that can type and, as my father would say, a gift for gab.
Now that we have established I have a big mouth and I’m not afraid to use it, why would I still spend my day off sitting inside writing a blog that I have no idea if anyone will even read once I hit the publish button on my Medium.com page ? It’s a beautiful day here in Colorado with the sun shining and reasonable winter temperatures near 50 degrees and, trust me, I want to be heading to the mountains for a hike. But I attended a few events this past week that have been ruminating in my head and when that happens I need a brain dump exercise. In this particular case, I really need this brain dump to express my sadness as a human being who will never understand why there is so much hate and intolerance in the world. I mean I know why, but I will never accept it. So I try to always fight the “good fight” despite the fact that I am well aware that the vast majority of the stuff that happens in life is really out of my control.
And if you think you have control, think again.
How many times did you have plans to do something and the weather didn’t cooperate?
How many accidents could you really stop from happening?
How many jobs have you lost to downsizing?
How many relationships ended because the other person was done and had no interest in working on it anymore?
How many of your loved ones have gotten sick or died regardless of how much you cared for them?
The list could go on and on and on. And for some, the mere thought of a list like this is overwhelming, maybe even debilitating.They don’t have the fight in them or maybe they have just decided to let others do the fight for them. Trust me, I get it. Being a fighter on so many levels is exhausting and, more importantly, if you are a “good fighter” it requires a certain degree of selflessness. Not everyone is wired to be kind, generous, patient and accepting but also filled with the gumption to, let’s say, walk into your high school principal’s office because one of your teachers blatantly scheduled an exam on Yom Kippur and actually threatened to fail you for the semester if you didn’t show up that day.
Yeah, the young life of this upper middleclass suburban girl may have been considered a privileged one, but I promise it was also one where I was clearly going to learn that there were people who wanted to control my ability to succeed simply because of my religion, something I didn’t choose for myself nor did any of my relatives who perished in the Holocaust or the generations before them that suffered through centuries of persecution. Regardless of the fact that I have never considered myself a very religious person, I live in a country that supposedly allows for freedom of religion and should be entitled to embrace my heritage and culture without any interference from an anti-Semitic math teacher on a power trip.
So let’s go back to how much we can’t control and how that has led to the disparity in our world.
Did any of us control when our parents decided to conceive us?
Did we control the color of our skin or the religious beliefs our parents had when we were born?
Did we control how much our parents were able to make to support us?
Did we control where we lived or what school we went to?
If you answered yes to any of the above, sorry, you are a liar. Well, maybe with the exception of what school you went to because I know there are plenty of stories of kids that have not allowed anything to get in the way of a good education.
People…we do not get to choose our genetic pool. We only get to choose how we use our DNA (nature) and our upbringing (nuture) as we evolve hopefully with the desire to make the world a better place from birth til death.
The problem, of course, is that we are only human and as much as we would like to think we have evolved from our cave people behaviors, clearly we have not. And I am afraid to say we never will because as long as there are people that want power over others as well as believe money does buy them their version of happiness we, as a species, have to deal with those that misinterpret Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory just like they misinterpret the Bible or Constitution to fit their individual needs.
Darwin, our Founding Fathers and scholars from ancient times could not have possibly imagined when they put quill to parchment centuries ago that their words would be manipulated to the point where people actually feel justified in inflicting pain on others just because they were born black, brown, Jewish, Muslim, LBGT or any other race, religion or creed someone decides is worthless. These are not people that want to change or respond to change. In their minds, it will not benefit them because it is all about them and not the “greater good”. Instead, they will just continue to cling to their belief that they are better than most and manipulate situations to their advantage.
It would have been so easy for my parents to raise me to think I was better than most…but they didn’t. There is no doubt I grew up in a beautiful home with a closet full of clothes, food always on the table and a debt free college education, but I also grew up understanding how hard it was to keep that roof over our heads, clothes on our back and food in our bellies. No one handed my parents a trust fund and even if they had they still would have raised me to fight the “good fight” for those that didn’t have access to the same life and resources because that is what people with a good conscience do.
People with a good conscience do not threaten to fail a high school student because they want to be with their family for a religious holiday.
People with a good conscience do not put children in cages.
People with a good conscience do not beat, torture and murder a young male student because he is gay.
People with a good conscience do not rape a woman because she wears a short skirt and, therefore, asked for it.
People with a good conscience do not turn their back on children who are too afraid to go to school because of so many mass shootings.
People with a good conscience do not rig elections.
People with a good conscience do not vote for anyone that says they could get away with murder. Nor should they vote for anyone that makes fun of someone with a disability, sexually assaults multiple women or makes blatant racial remarks over and over and over.
I am far from perfect but I do have a good conscience. And I try to surround myself with people who also have a good conscience especially to support something like Boulder’s Motus Theater’s Shoebox Stories, a “story-holding project where people stand in another person’s shoes by reading aloud their story, saying their words and feeling the weight they carry.” It took all of 30 seconds into the first reading before my eyes teared up. And if that makes me a liberal snowflake I am totally ok with that. What I am not ok with is hearing about the injustice of some of the undocumented aliens in my community. They have lived here most, if not all of their lives, and have grown up to be extremely productive, tax-paying members of our society despite living in the constant fear of having their DACA status revoked and deported to a country they do not know. As this very brave undocumented, Chilean born, but American raised 6th grade math teacher said, if we deport him it will be our loss.
At the conclusion of the evening, the theater’s founder announced a fundraiser whereby we could make a donation and receive a shoebox with 4 stories in the hopes that we would organize a small gathering in our homes to share and discuss the stories with others so that maybe we could help change these stories to have “happily ever after” endings. I truly love this idea. I am all about one’s story as evidenced by the length of this blog. I just wish I could think of a handful of people that I could invite who need as well as want to hear these stories. I have plenty of friends that want to hear them, but needing to is, no pun intended, a completely different story.
Side note: The original source of the quote above appears to be up for debate. According to the internet it is an old Jewish saying and while I am not sharing it or going to take credit for it just because I am Jewish, it definitely fits with the theme.
If I was someone famous like Sarah Silverman I could produce a show like I love You, America and try to have the conversation that way, but I’m not. I, can though, hold up a sign on a street corner saying “Free Dinner to Anyone That Supports The Wall”. Not kidding…I am seriously considering it. What do I have to lose? One evening out of my entire life in exchange for the possibility of bringing awareness to even one person? It could happen and could also lead to that one person bringing awareness to another and so on and so on. As Dr. King said, “I have a dream…”
The other event ruminating in my head from this past week? Attending the Womxn’s March in Denver this past Saturday. Yes, the number of participants is down significantly from the previous three years, but I am not going to allow anyone to say it wasn’t still impactful. I’ve attended 3 out of the 4 years and I would agree with one participant’s statement that “this is the year when…the decision, to some degree, is going to be made: Which direction do we go?”
Based on the number of younger people I saw truly present and engaged, I am extremely hopeful that, if nothing else, there still are parents raising their children with a good conscience. Complacency is not a way to go through life and clearly these young women from the Denver chapter of Girls Inc., an incredible organization “inspiring all young girls to be strong, smart, and bold” are learning that big time. And just like when I was sitting at the Motus Theater production a few days before, I teared up as they were chanting over and over their mantras of strength and courage.
You see, I do believe our children are our future. We, the adults though, need to remember when it is time to step back and let them lead the way. It wasn’t that many generations ago that our ancestors were married and had children by the time they were 15. Granted, most didn’t live to be 100 so time was of the essence. But no one’s amygdala was fully formed by that age then any more than they are now. Dismissing the Parkland shooting survivors, Greta Thunberg or any other teenage activist because of their age is ridiculous. They are responding to change and trying to insure we all survive.
How dare anyone tell a child that they shouldn’t have the right to fight for their safety
How dare anyone tell a child that they shouldn’t care about climate change
How dare anyone tell anyone that they shouldn’t speak up about their right to their body
How dare anyone tell the undocumented that they have no worth
How dare anyone tell someone who they should be allowed to love
How dare anyone tell any of us we can’t fight the good fight
I think I have said enough for now. Every “good fighter” needs time to decompress so once I push the publish button I will be heading out to the mountains. And just like Dr. King, I will stand on the mountaintop and look out over my Promised Land (aka the Rocky Mountains) and hope that we will all get to a mutually agreed upon good place together sooner rather than later.