27 July 2006

mommy manifesto

This isn’t just about me anymore. I have this little guy now (who shall be referred to from here on in as the bebe) that is always watching me, taking cues/learning from me and depending on me to lead the way. While I know that I’m simply the vehicle for his existence, I’ am also his guide through this really brief journey that we’ll share together,. I’ am finding that this is a very tricky and delicate thing. I’ am questioning everything that I have ever known, or even thought I knew.

His father and I are responsible for setting examples that will be internalized by him without his even knowing it - examples and lessons that he will carry with him for the rest of his life. Somehow, I have to find the balance. I have to teach him the difference between not blindly following authority (because many in those positions have lied, cheated and stolen to get where they are, and they don’t deserve respect) AND being respectful of others and all living things.

I have to instill in him, a sense of being true to self, no matter what anyone else says. I have to show him how to speak up when he witnesses injustice and encourage him to not turn a blind eye. I have to show him how to speak his truth. I have to show him how to walk lightly – to be mindful of his actions and how they impact others and the planet. I have to help him understand that this world is a very large place, full of many people that aren’t exactly like us – and that this is thing to be celebrated. He has to know that there are people in the world that will hurt him, but to never live in fear. I have to somehow get across that he always has a choice - that he doesn’t have to fight, just because he’s a “man” - that I mean it when I say that we don’t hit/fight, because it isn’t the way to solve problems/show anger in a world that pays lip service to the idea, all the while waging unrelenting war. He needs to see that words are more powerful than weapons and to choose them carefully. That if anyone ever makes him feel inferior, it is completely acceptable to deny them him. That a better world is possible. That the old ways aren’t working and we need to find new solutions for the age-old problems. He needs to see how there is strength in numbers. That stereotypes are just that – they are only accurate some of the time and are meant to be defied and risen above. That women are not objects or toys, neither are emotions or feelings. To speak honestly and true. To be himself, whomever that may be. To realize that there are always three sides to every story – what one says, what the other says, and what really happened. To know that no one can ever take away his free speech, that it is something we are all born with, like our nose, ears, brain. To know that his thoughts are valid - simply because he has thought them. To realize that because he happened to be born a white male, in the United States, he automatically has a so-called privilege and will have opportunities available to him that are not based in fairness and equality – and not to take advantage of this. That there is a massive difference between asking and telling…

I’ am only now beginning to get a glimpse of who he will become and it is downright amazing. I can literally see him soaking in every little bit of everything around him, and processing it.

Lately, this is creating a dis-connect in me, in regards to my activism. (And I just realized that I can’t call mom and dad to bail me out anymore. I’ am mom.) The dynamic has changed. I have always been the first to say something when no one else will, to seek out as much knowledge as I possibly can, and to speak my mind without fear. But now, I realize that my every expression, every move, every word is under sharp scrutiny – and promptly repeated. Nothing gets past the bebe.

All of this is also creating a disconnect between me and my supposed fellow peeps in struggle. It’s no secret, if I had to box myself into some neat, little, easily-consumable package, I’m left of left – but not so far left, I’ve become ‘right.’ I’ve been labeled a bunch of things historically (pinko-commie, dirty hippy, liberal, socialist, radical, blah, blah, blah…), but labels take away the individual. I try to stay away from that.

I’m human. And I ain’t perfect.

In my experience in the pursuit of social change/awareness (I’ve been around the ol’ block a few times), there inevitably comes a moment when there are more than two people in a room and the boundary drawing begins. Every time I find myself thinking that this time will be different. Yet, it’s the same shit as always.

You see, there seems to exist a hypocrisy amongst those I can most easily identify with– the same people that are mortified by the thought of physically blocking a doorway to a planned parenthood are all too willing to block others from doing something else that is completely legal. The same people that abhor war and violence begin to push for tactics like armed struggle and calling for the downfall of those they’ve deemed ‘wrong.’ The same people that don’t want Jesus shoved down their throats take no issue with witnessing to everyone within earshot, through a megaphone, for their cause. The same people that say, ‘live and let live,’ want to tell others how to live. The same people that claim there is room for everyone, also say that if others disagree, there is no room for them… “Do as I say and not as I do” will not be a family value.

It is all very confusing to me now. And they just don’t seem to see - that it’s the same thing, no matter what ‘side’ you’re on.

I say none of this in judgment of anyone, I’ am just as guilty of much of what I’ve described as anyone else - I’m merely trying to find a balance where none exists right now, as I’m thinking ahead to the day when the bebe begins to ask me some tough questions. For years now, I’ve tried to follow the following quote to the best of my ability, even when it bumps up against deep-seated, long held beliefs that most likely began to form when I was the bebe’s age, “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. (Buddha).”

And all the while I know – in the immortal words of Malcolm X, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,” there has to be a balance. Maybe I’m “getting old” and softening up. Maybe I expect too much from people. Maybe I’m evolving once again. Maybe i just don't play well with others - and all organizations make me uneasy. i dunno. There has to be a better way.

And maybe the most important thing that I can teach the bebe is that extremism rarely leads to positive, meaningful, all-encompassing change that is beneficial to everyone who shares this tiny planet in a massive universe with us. And that if we ever, as individuals, close ourselves off to other perspectives and stop learning, stop evolving, stop questioning, stop speaking, stop trying to build bridges, that we may as well lay down and die.

I only hope that I’ am brave and strong enough to suss this all out, and soon. I hope I don’t fuck it all up.


FAIR USE NOTICE: This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We have posted it here in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific, social justice and other issues. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The material in this site is provided for educational and informational purposes only.