I met with a student this morning; seeing her always makes me happy. All of my students do. I love teenagers that aren’t mine. I say that without knowing of course, being that my boys are not yet teens. But if moods are an indicator, and if moods get worse as teen years advance and if all my friends relay accurate information, well, then, I maintain that I love spending time with teenagers that aren’t mine.
In any case, I am so grateful that I took the plunge and started Elucido. Through it I’ve met some really wonderful people, and it feels enormously good and fulfilling to do something beyond parenting. Something that utilizes my education and skills in a broader way; something through which I earn money; something through which I enlarge my community and can give back.
Earlier today, this popped up in my Facebook feed, a memory from three years ago:
Stunning, isn’t it. Thank you, Roger Cohen. (This was in one of his columns in the New York Times.)
I’ve been thinking a lot about community lately- those we are born into, grow up with and in, choose, make, opt out of and away from. Those we participate in directly and indirectly, in real life and online. I feel lucky to be part of many communities. Through them and in them I feel tethered to life and the world. I feel a duty to them. Not in a drafted, forcible sense, but in a compassionate obligatory way. I think that’s what holds society together. It’s stewardship. Connection. Loving thy neighbor, if you will.
I see this sort of intermutual care in so many of my communities. Meal Trains, a call for cards to a recently separated friend, acts of goodness in honor of a child gone too soon, candles lit by agnostics in houses of worship on behalf of believers in need, neighbors driving neighbors to the train, people boosting each other up left and right, from near and far.
We need this love, more of it. We need it for the people we know who are scared or hurting, who are sick or divorcing, burying a child or having one. We need it for elders who live alone, for neighbors who lose beloved pets, for those who are stressed about finances, for those who struggle with mental unhealth and benefit from stigma not at all. We need it for our brothers and sisters of any sexual orientation or religious belief or cultural heritage.
And yet for all of this beauty I do witness, I am equally struck by the appalling intolerance and bigotry and outright celebration of lies that is as pronounced. Where compassion knits people together, ugliness rips the threads that bind. Why do so many still opt for the latter?
I am deeply sorry for all who hurt. But for the life of me I cannot figure out where lying and making lynching jokes (Cindy Hyde-Smith) and cheating to win (Brian Kemp as one of many examples) and extolling Christian virtues while excusing the complete abdication of them in your leaders gets us. I know this sounds naive. But the bar for decency seems to be getting lower and lower. Or maybe it’s a divide between what constitutes decency? What decency is worth?
I read this excellent article this morning and urge you to do the same. “Why Is Being Held Accountable So Terrifying Under Patriarchy?” Is it about accountability? About white male dominance? Is it simply about being right and wanting what you want?
Can we, instead of rightness and winning, seek diligence and discipline? Can we seek to honor truth and effectiveness, discarding falsehoods of all kinds? Can we make the gestures? Can we perhaps look to connection and tolerance, rather than walls and guns, as ways to keep bad things, bad luck as Cohen may have called it, at bay?