I am not soft spoken. I’m not shy when it comes to communicating what I want, what I’m thinking, how I feel, and on, and on. There is a reason that nearly every report card I received growing up was marked with “talks to much.” I’ve mentioned before that when my marriage was really struggling I had to pick my battles. There were days I wondered if I was sacrificing who I was for the sake of my marriage. Leaving my opinions unsaid, my beliefs on the sidelines, and my voice often unheard. Because it seemed easier. But we survived. And as good days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, and months into years, my opinions and beliefs and voice came back (phew!).
There is a particularly heated campaign in Minnesota right now to add an amendment to our constitution. It’s something I feel very, VERY, strongly about. Because as far as I’m concerned, at the end of the day, it’s about equality and equal rights. End of story. But aside from giving money to the organization fighting the fight? I’ve done nothing. Nothing.
I started thinking about getting a lawn sign quite some time ago. But I’ll be perfectly honest…I’m ashamed to say that I’ve been nervous. I am not surrounded by neighbors who agree with my political beliefs. I started to wonder if it might strain the relationships we share with some of them. And I worried about what other parents would think when dropping off their kids at our house for play dates. And I wondered how to talk about it with my little girls…and subsequently what their other parents would think. I worried, and delayed, and worried, and delayed.
Then two things hit me.
First of all, if I want my little girls to grow up as strong independent women? If I want them to be able to speak up when they want something, stand tall when they believe in something, and fight (whether it be through lawn signs, donations, or protests) for things about which they’re passionate? Then by golly they’re going to have to have an example of women who do the same.
Second, as I worried about the fellow moms in Suburbia? And the neighbors who so graciously loan us tile cutters, or trucks, when we need them? Something occurred to me. What would have happened if Martin Luther King, Jr. hadn’t been brave? What if he hadn’t spoken up? What if he’d never learned how important it was to be his own man and follow his heart? What would have happened then?
That day, over my lunch break, I drove to the location from which they were distributing signs. I chatted with the lovely 20-somethings who are living and breathing this campaign. And I took it home, put it up in the yard, and I felt proud. And brave. And truly American.
That first night I kept thinking I heard noises outside. I was sure someone was vandalizing my sign, or egging my house, or doing some hoodlum-like things. But in the early morning light the next day I could see that it was still there. And it remained there for about two weeks. Until kids blew through our neighborhood this past weekend, tearing down signs supporting both sides of the issue, and mine was ripped to shreds.
Do those a-sholes know how far the sign-distribution-place is from my house?!
On Monday I went to pick-up a replacement sign and a second for another ballot issue about which I feel strongly. HA! Take THAT you stupid hoodlums!
Nelson Mandela said that “courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” That is what I need to remember when there are issues, or people, or organizations that deserve my support. Deserve my voice.
I need my little girls to grow up witnessing courage. We, as a collective, need our children to grow up witnessing courage.
TODAY: What if I remember that courage is an essential part of integrity and character? What if I lead by example when trying to teach my little girls about standing up for what they want, believe, and love?
PS – For the record…there are signs in my neighborhood that make me really angry. There are posts in my Facebook feed that leave me dumbfounded because they are so cruel and intolerant. I may disagree with some of you but I love this country because we GET to disagree without disrespecting each other. Courage sometimes means respecting the opinions of others, being kind in the face of idiocy, and holding your head high even when you’re the minority. Let us all have the courage to promote kindness and tolerance.