I’ve long felt that you get what you put out to the Universe. The more joy you experience and push out, the more joy comes back your way. You put out a ton of negativity, your experience will be rather negative. This is not rocket science. What comes with age – at least for me – is the realization that almost everything in life is some form of reflection. Our behavior will be reflected back. Our rhetoric will be reflected back. Our treatment of others will be reflected back.
This is where “be the change you want to see” comes in. “Treat others as you want to be treated.” We are all the examples our children will look to. How we behave, how we speak, how we treat others, how we react to tragedy, systemic racism, adversity, grief. Even as our children grow older and form their own unique personalities, we will hear our own words spoken back to us in their voices, often in the exact tone we use ourselves. They emulate our behavior, our relationships, and our views on the world.
For these reasons, I have had a hard time with what we’ve all seen in the past four years. I grew up in South Minneapolis until middle school in a diverse neighborhood, attending public school, and spending my early mornings and afternoons in latchkey. When my family moved to a first ring suburb, we went to St. Louis Park, one of the more diverse suburbs of Minneapolis. When I went to college in St. Paul, MN it was the least diverse environment I’d been in thus far. I grew up believing what my mom taught me about racism, equality, and human rights. I thought MOST PEOPLE agreed.
Clearly not. My white privilege didn’t allow me to see how wrong I was. And never has that been more clear than in the past four years as I’ve seen time and time again that blatant racism, sexual assault, misogyny, and more, aren’t actually deal breakers for people I considered to be smart and decent people. People shouting that all lives matter, not understanding the difference/purpose/need of the BLM movement. People laughing off rhetoric that I feel is really dangerous. Claiming nobody takes Trump seriously. He just does it for attention. He can’t do any REAL damage.
Umm…I beg to differ.
Between social media, the Trump presidency, and the increased ability for anyone and everyone to have a platform, we’ve seen a rise of ignorant, angry, privileged white people who think they need more. Yeah? I need more too but I don’t need more attention, I don’t need more likes, and I don’t need more followers. I don’t need more people to understand how hard my white privileged life is. I don’t need more people to lie to me so I feel better about my life. I don’t need more government handouts while claiming other people on welfare don’t deserve it.
I need more f-cking decency. I need more truth. I need more literacy. I need more compassion and empathy. I need more diversity. I need more examples of actual bravery. I need more examples of regular people doing real – note I said REAL – work to make our world a better place to show my daughters. I need more accountability when people make mistakes and/or do something wrong. I need more smart people in the world who won’t dumb down their vocabulary. I need more Christians who behave like actual Christians. I need more patriots who do the work of actual patriots. I need more white people to do the work of an anti-racist without doing so publicly so they can be seen doing the work. I need more acts of kindness without expectation of likes and pats on the back for simply being kind.
For f-ck sake. Being a good human is important and worthwhile without needing other people to congratulate you for it. Being a good human is how we create future good humans in our children. Being a good human simply for the sake of being a good human is how we create a world in which that goodness starts to be reflected around us. And vocal intolerance of ignorance, racism, misogyny, hate, lies, and terrorism is imperative. It’s the only way we will see that intolerance of hate reflected back.
If we are silent when things are unjust, we will hear crickets when we ourselves are treated unjustly.
This is not the world I want for my children. I will fight for truth, decency, equality, and justice in any way I can so they will not only know what’s right, but so they’ll also know it’s all of our responsibility to fight for what’s right when things have gone very very wrong. And I hope they will grow into young adults who will reflect that commitment back to me and to those around them – and see a better world reflected back.