Tomorrow (goddess willing and the creek don’t rise…or another migraine headache), I will step out of my comfort zone and do something that I have not in over three years. I am going to put my money and fat butt where my mouth is, and …
It isn’t just the US that is trying to restrict freedom of speech and the right to protest. The UK is attempting to pass a draconian law that would give police extreme powers to limit legitimate protests. Even if just one person objected.
But that is not the topic of today’s blog. As I thought about what I would put on my sign, besides the obvious… #KillTheBill, I remembered that hashtag that I came up with…
That phrase holds special meaning to me.
I grew up in the South in the 70s and early 80s, just post Civil Rights movement and the hippies. But this was the South, so in many ways those things were just a bleep on the radar. You were still expected to dress and act a certain way. Think a certain way. And if you did not, they used religion and fear to terrorize you.
I grew up in the church. That Methodist like in the story. Supposedly, we were much more progressive than those Baptists. But I was at the state conference that voted down support of the Equal Rights Amendment. I listened as they quoted all those verses about not letting women speak in church. And that was just white women. Forget blacks, they had their own branch of the church and the annual conference had only a few token ‘negros.’ And yes, they had the audicity to yes that word. Of course, HIV/AIDS was gods punishment on them gays, too. So, not much different than those Baptists or many fundamentalists of all faiths today.
But I always felt different. I always questioned those beliefs. Wondered why women couldn’t speak in church. How exactly were blacks any different than whites? And if god killed gay people, well, where was all that loving, forgiveness, and turning the other cheek?
I lived in fear. Jesus was coming back. And he was going to judge us all. But first there were the Four HorseMEN of the Apocalypse. We were going to have plagues (check), famine (not quite but who knows), war (when did we not have that one?), and death. I remember in junior high school our youth group read and studied Hal Lindsey’s The Late, Great Planet Earth. That man missed his calling. That shit was more terrifying than anything that Stephen King or M. Night Shyamalan wrote or produced. His mind is truly sick. Quite frankly, even then I questioned…if god does all that nasty shit, what makes him different from the devil?
- Ronald Wilson Reagan was the Beast because his name had six-letters in each.
- There was a comet that was hitting us and destroying the planet, killing us all. (I got an F on a test that day…because it didn’t and I hadn’t studied.)
- And, of course, as now, every time that Israel got into with their neighbors that was a sure signs Jesus was coming back.
Growing up like that deprived me of any sense of a future. I could never imagine the year 2000, even though I would be only thirty-five, less than mid-life. For certain, Jesus would be back before then.
In my late teens and early twenties as I began to slough off that fear and warp it into a fascination with apocalyptic movies whose secular message was more hopeful for humanity that religions, I began to visualize the 21st Century as this age of enlightenment. Humanity would evolve. We would learn from our mistakes. We would see one another as more alike than different. And the lion would lie down with the lamb…
Having children in 1980s and 1990s was a reflection of that hope. The world was going to be a better place for them. I was seven and a half months pregnant with my fifth child when all that came crashing down. Along with the Twin Towers. I remember staring at that television for days. Rubbing my belly and thinking…
What kind of f’ed up world am I bringing him into?
Yes, I went on to have @PanKwake. But just one and a half years into the 21st century and I, like most others, was brought face-to-face with reality. And just a couple of years later, I found myself pushing a buggy with child in protest of the war in Iraq.
Have I lost hope? Do I no longer believe we can build a better world for our children? Evolve as a species? Become that lion lying down with the lamb?
No, if you read any of fiction, you know I still believe that we can and MUST do better. What has changed is who I trust to do that work…and perhaps even the methods I believe will work.
Churches, governments/politics, schools, societies are never going to decide to do the right thing. They have a vested interest in maintaining the systems as they are. It is going to be up to individuals. First to change themselves. I am the only one who can evolve. Who can grow and be/do better. Then I can, as in my stories, connect with others and together we can begin to address things in our community.
As my sign tomorrow says….
Prejudice of all kinds has #NoPlaceN21stCentury.
But like Dr. King, I have come to believe…
“But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop … I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land”Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
April 3, 1968 – Memphis, TN
That is no excuse for me not to keep trying. That is my obligation as a writer, a mother, a woman, and especially a human being.
And freedom of speech and assembly is a crucial element of that. I encourage you all to question what your part can, should, and must be in the days, years, and lifetime ahead. Because I don’t believe King was talking just to the black community, but to all humanity…all people. Even middle-aged, fat, white women with loud mouths and self-righteous opinions. (I resemble that.)
Goddess bless and strengthen us all until that day,