Hello, Everyone. It is I, The IdealisticRebel’s Sister, and I have taken over the keyboard today to share a few thoughts.
For those of you who are not aware, I turned fifty several months ago, so when I say I remember a different America, I mean that I grew up in a different America.
In the America I grew up in, anger resulted in shouting, fist-fights and, occasionally law suits. It did not end up in bullet-ridden bodies on the street corner, in the living room or the movie theatre.
I grew up in an America where we played outside till the lights came on, and no one worried we were going to be grabbed and shoved into a van and sold into slavery. Strange cars in the neighborhood were first waved at, then greeted by a crowd of teenagers watching closely if they seemed suspicious. Because those teenagers might be picking on you, but you were somebody’s little sister or little brother or younger cousin, and nobody got to mess with you but them!
I grew up in an America where my Mom worked full-time, raising three kids. I came home to an empty house after school, and called my Mom the SECOND I got through the door, or I got what-for when she had to call me. I heated up the dinner Mom had pre-made for the two of us, after my siblings went to college, and Mom and I ate together and shared our days and our plans for the week or the weekend. Weekends, my siblings (sometimes) came home and we all ate together and yelled together and played together and ignored each other. There was no father in our house (ours was the first household in school to have that ugly seven-letter word: D-I-V-O-R-C-E). My father, in fact, moved to Canada and, if I was lucky, I saw him twice a year. My siblings often saw him less.
And none of us ended up on drugs, or got in bar fights, or beat our partners, or bought a gun and shot some stranger who reminded us of our parents. We actually ended up as reasonably well-adjusted adults. Perfect? Not even close! Dysfunctional together? You bet! But, push comes to shove, loving and caring and compassionate people who, each in our own way, do our best for those around us and the world.
There is no one who needs to tell me what it’s like to come from a broken home; to come home to an empty house day after day; to not have friends to play with because my family was different (I did mention: the FIRST divorce, didn’t I?) I was there. I lived it, I felt it.
I was (very minorly) bullied in school, picked on by the ‘cool kids’, made to eat my lunch alone (because the ‘cool kids’ would ostracize anyone who sat with me), but I learned to cope, and to be happy in my own company and it never occurred to me — nor to anyone else I knew — to walk into my school and blow all my classmates away.
When did we become a country whose knee-jerk response is to shoot first and not ask questions, ever?
I’m not saying that we need to back to the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s. Go back to the time when blacks sat in the back of the bus? When it was legal to hit a woman? No, thank you.
But there has to be something between that and THIS. Something between “you’re different, so I’m going to force you to stay away from me” and “you’re different so I’m going to blow your head off.”
I don’t know what the answer is. When I was a child, I might have said religion. But now, in a world where religion is an excuse to blow up synagogues and mosques and churches; where churches teach that anyone who believes differently will go to hell; where church groups picket the funerals of people who, in life, did or were something these narrow-minded people feel is ‘evil’? I can’t believe THAT kind of religion — any kind of extremist religion, and it seems that, increasingly, that’s the predominant mentality of religious groups these days — is the answer.
I don’t know what the answer is. When I was a child, I might have said the law. But the lawmakers are trying to overturn basic human rights, and fighting granting rights to anyone different from them. So I don’t know that the law is the answer (although, it’s getting better: Thank you, SCOTUS; Thank you, POTUS).
I don’t know what the answer is. Now that I’m an adult, though, I think the answer is more simple than I imagined as a child: I think the answer might — just might — be US. Each one of us, putting aside our differences to look for the commonalities; checking our prejudices at the door and actually LISTENING to the other side, without anger or vitriol; without judgement or censure; with open minds and open hearts and a genuine desire to make the world and each other better.
I don’t know what the answer is.