As Lowi mentioned on Monday, we had a little trouble keeping track of our themes as we move toward the later part of 2020. I can’t imagine what has us distracted or confused, can you?
Lowi shared with you that this month is going to be a free-for-all. Then I realized that, much like commas, hyphens matter.
We can either have this month be a free-for-all, or about being Free For All. What a difference it makes, right? This little awareness came trickling into my brain the other day and it just hasn’t left so I decided I would let it stay and who knows what it would sprout.
And here we are. It’s all about perspective, always. That’s the sprout.
One person’s free for all is to another a free-for-all. Some of us value order above all else and often for good personal reasons related to our pasts. Others value freedom above all for their own personal litany of reasons. Who’s right? Nobody. Who’s wrong? Nobody.
This is where perspective and nuance work their subtle gray-filled magic. What if it’s not about being right or wrong but being heard AND listening; having preferences and recognizing someone else has others. And also being able to sift through the idea that what feels like how life should be to you, is manifesting a completely different experience for another.
This is why debates are such lightning rods for the candidates, the moderators and all the viewers at home. We think it’s about winning. We think it’s about being right. We think it’s about who is wrong. It is supposed to be about the conversing, the sharing, and the respectful dissent and agreement.
What it has become is doing everything you can to avoid being the loser. But we are all losing right now. All of us. We think that someone else’s wrongness, creates and preserves our rightness. What it protects is our ego. It protects our desire to stay the same. It protects our need to have others change but not us, because we are right.
The inflexibility is based on myopic viewpoints like, that’s the way it’s always been; if it was good enough for my grandparents, then it’s good enough for me. Nostalgia deludes us. It tells us the past was better than it was. It hints that life used to be somehow easier, simpler or better. But here’s the thing, it’s not true AND many others look back and know their life was not better in the past. Women who could/can recall not having the right to vote, do not have nostalgia about the good old days. It wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that Black women in the South could vote without restriction. And some Latinx, Native and Asian American women waited even longer. And still today, there are barriers to voting.
Remember when women could be fired for being pregnant? Yep, those were likely awesome times, too.
If that feels awfully feminist, well here’s this one for us to ponder. I have read so many comments in the last several weeks lamenting why our country can’t behave like it did on September 12, 2001 as if the date has something to do with our behavior. It’s us. We aren’t the same. But let’s also not let nostalgia confuse us here either. We were united, in part, because it seemed there was a common enemy and it wasn’t each other — mostly. And in those days and weeks following September 11, many who “looked like” our newly determined enemy were targeted. We remember only the parts we want to, we only remember the parts that felt good. Even then we were troubled.
We’ve made enemies of dissent and differing opinions because we don’t like how they feel when they show up in our bodies. We close off and we stop being open. We’ve turned truth into a punchline and if you haven’t been a party to it, you have stood by and watched. I know, I have. I have stayed silent when I heard ridiculous comments made. I have been a calm-and-quiet-keeper instead of a fully throated supportive peacemaker. I have turned off the “news.” I have logged out of social media. I have opted out when I should have been opting in.
I am here for the idea of FREE FOR ALL. I want us all to feel free and actually BE FOR ALL. I want everyone to feel heard and BE heard. I want everyone to feel and BE FREE. I want everyone to feel safe and BE SAFE. I want everyone to feel the balm of justice and BE able to receive justice.
Going backward doesn’t serve us and we are often not even remembering it properly anyway. Let’s move forward for us all. Let’s be for each other. Let’s be for all of us winning. Let’s be for everyone receiving justice. As I heard Austin Channing Brown say, let’s vote for the least privileged of us. Let’s use our vote to the greater empowerment of us all instead of grabbing just enough for ourselves. Let’s vote as if we we belonged to the most marginalized group in this country.
Only if we hold our tender hearts and each others’ gently will we make it to the future we all hope for whole and free for all.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G