A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".
Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.
I'm struggling, you guys. This election has shaken up what I thought I knew about my country, in so many different ways.
I have followed and read and asked and tried and tried and tried. I have spent hours upon hours to try and figure out what looked like chaos. And after all that time, all that research, I still do not understand. It still looks like chaos.
I am trying to sort through my thoughts.
I met a man from North Africa recently. He was my taxi driver. We made small talk at first. Where are you from? Where are you going? How long have you lived here? What do you like best about this city? The norm.
Then we started the Real Talk. We talked about his life in America. We talked about his life before America. We talked about the differences between America and other countries. He shared stories with me, each one so incredibly interesting that I kept hoping the drive would take longer and longer so I could hear another.
At no point was I ever alarmed, afraid, or concerned. At no point did I hesitate in conversation. At no point did I hesitate in kindness.
This man and I were no different. This man so many of my peers fear solely because of his birthplace, an Islamic country. This man - this unbelievably upbeat, positive man - radiated kindness. It was undeniable. Every word, every story, even every struggle he ever faced was tinged with compassion and sincere warmth.
We talked about discrimination. He said, "I always tell people to picture themselves as babies. To picture all of us as babies being born into this big world. Little, beautiful babies of all shapes and sizes and colors. Babies don't discriminate. Babies don't know differences. Babies love. We should all remember we were once those babies."
At one point an alarm went off on his phone. It was a reminder for prayer. The alarm itself was a song sung with words I don't know in a language I don't speak.
It was beautiful.
I believe in equality. In every way possible. I believe men and women should be considered equals. I believe people should be able to love the way they love, as well as look the way they feel they should look, without their rights being brought into question. I believe that our world is more beautiful because of it's diversity, because of it's differences, because of all the languages and races and cultures and colors.
I believe we have made mistakes.
We founded this country the wrong way- we stole it. We bought and sold human beings. We told people they weren't worthy of equal rights for a multitude of wrong reasons.
This feels like a mistake. I hope I'm wrong.
I find it odd that we tend to only ever have two options when it comes down to our final political choices. There never seems to be a middle ground or multiple possibilities.
For example, Pro-Choice or Pro-Life. I can't say that either one is perfect. I can't say this because I have spent countless hours of my life considering every possible angle. The religious and/or murder perspective of believing a child is a child is a child regardless of the amount of time they are in the womb. What a woman who was raped and impregnated might feel. What a child unwanted and unloved might go through when they are given up for adoption or put into foster care the second they are born. (For the record, as of last week, there were over 200,000 children in America alone who need to be adopted). What a drug baby must struggle through from the very first moment it has a beating heart. What a late term mom with twins who's life is at risk because of one of her babies must think when her doctor tells her she must abort one to save the other, and to save herself. What must go through her head when the state she lives in doesn't support the late term abortion she needs.
I've thought about the cruelty women, and only women, face because of this issue. Men's bodies are never brought into question. Their freedom of choice for what they can and can't do with their bodies is never up for debate. There are no laws about what should happen to man if he's impregnated X amount of women. There's no demand of a vasectomy. There's nothing. It is always the women.
I've thought about medicine for men and women, and what's covered under insurance or not. How even this lacks equality. Viagra is never brought under fire. No law makers are debating whether or not that should be covered under medical insurance. Yet, somehow, birth control and other things women need and should have access to under insurance are always up for debate. Why is that acceptable? (And what exactly are you trying to say if you're Pro-Life but you also don't want women to have birth control covered by insurance?)
I've thought about the thing that bothers me the most; the idea that someone else should have the power to tell me what to do with my body. Whether it be how I cut my hair or what I choose to do with it, it is my body and mine alone. It belongs to no one else. Let's not forget we've already seen what happens when someone else has that much power over your life. Let's not forget China and the baby limitations and the murders.
This is what happens when the government has control of your body. If this is where you want it to start, where do you think it will end?
I voted for Hillary. For me, in my own personal opinion, based on my own personal perspectives shaped by my life experience, this made sense. I am certain this also applies for the Trump supporters. They feel justified for their beliefs in him. I've read and heard that his supporters feel like their voices have gone unheard for too long. That they've been left out, left behind, forgotten. I don't doubt they feel that way. I also don't doubt that women, minorities, and LGBTQ people (to name a few) also feel that way. They too have been left behind, silenced, pushed aside, and forgotten. Everyone is fighting the same battle, at least in these ways.
We're too busy fighting each other to realize we could be fighting together.
I live in a country that treats sexual assault as a nuisance.
Leaders Lead by Example: This is the motto of every business.
Do unto others as you would have done unto you: This is what we teach our children.
Take away everything else. Take away the qualifications. Take away the promises. Take away their histories.
Look only at how they acted, how they conducted themselves, how they showed kindness, or the lack thereof, to others. This alone should tell you everything you need to know.
You may have seen the safety pin thing going around. For people who have been shocked by this election, this tiny act is helping them feel like they have some control, some way to support anyone who feels unsafe. I thought it was a nice idea.
Then I read an article that started out "Dear White People, Your Safety Pins Are Embarrassing." That caught me off guard. No one said safety pins were going to change the world. They're just a small measure of kindness right now embraced by all kinds of people, all colors, all varying beliefs.
Apparently, all forms of kindness are up for attack. This helps nothing.
When I get this out of sorts, I make lists. I sort and divide and organize my thoughts. But this time, a list won't help. You'll have a list, I'll have a list. We'll point out all of the facts and opinions and reasons and then we'll crumple up our lists in a fit of frustration.
That's what America looks like now. That's how America feels. Crumpled up people trying to fight through fear and confusion and oh so much chaos.
I am marrying into a diverse family, some of whom are Mexican. "Let's build a wall." Let's maybe ask the folks in Berlin how that wall thing felt, huh? Walls don't just keep people out...they keep people in. From an emotional standpoint, we build up walls and then spend years trying to break them down. We already know: Walls answer nothing. Walls make things worse.
My great grandparents fled Germany when this dude, Hitler (you might have heard of him), was destroying lives. They were Germans, but they were people. Good people who wanted better lives in a better country. They weren't Nazi supporters, but people were scared of them none the less. This is no different than what's happening to other immigrants today. This is no different.
I believe in immigration. It's the reason I'm here. It's what made me an American. It's how most people became citizens of this country. We are a collective result of immigration. This country is literally made of immigrants who then birthed children and grandchildren and great grandchildren who now no longer want immigrants.
We don't get to choose where we're born. None of us. We are either incredibly lucky or we aren't. It's that simple. I would never fault someone else for wanting a better life in a better country. I would do whatever it took to get my family to a better place.
I understand. I understand.
I will raise my children to be better than this world. They will know, from birth, the importance of equality. They will understand how these United States were formed, both the good and the bad, and they will know. They will know.
To my fellow Americans who are scared, who are worried, who are uncertain of what may come:
I will walk with you. I will stand with you. I will sit with you. I will fight for you.
I will fight for us.
"A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of Men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand!"
- Lord of the Rings. J. R. R. Tolkien
Update: I had a great talk with my Work Husband today about the safety pin situation. He shared some new perspectives with me as to why some people, like him, think it's a stupid idea. Ideas that the article, in my opinion, didn't make clear. I always appreciate being shown things from different angles and appreciate the chance to see into other people's minds. He does a good job with that. I heart you, WH. Thanks for our good conversations!
That being said, taking into consideration all the views as I understand them now, I still lean more towards this being a very simple, very small kindness gesture. A "sign" for anyone feeling unsafe, even though I now understand more of how conflicting and confusing and possibly wrong that "sign" might be. It's not an answer to the problems we're facing, clearly. But it's also not something built upon hatred and harm, rather hope and healing. I think if people want to wear them AND they're out in the world fighting the good fight, then by all means let the people wear their safety pins.