My parents tell me that while a child my mantra was, “life wasn’t fair.” While it often came in response to my own plight in any given situation, I was also very empathetic and compassionate to the situations I saw in the world around me.
I remember seeing the poor people in Mexico, and realizing how unfair it was that they lived in such filth and poverty. I remember feeling for the desperate Mexican kids desperately washing our windshield (unfortunately without our consent) while we were in line at the border and then asking for a tip and my Dad refusing to give it. I thought how unfair it was that they could work all day under such miserable conditions, only to be stiffed by us. Were we really so poor that we couldn’t give something to them for their effort?
I saw the working animals in Mexico as also being unfairly treated. I saw legless and homeless dogs roaming the streets, lots of dirty stray cats, and abused horses. Being a horse lover, I knew that a horse foaming at the mouth was an exhausted horse. I remember being treated to a horse ride on the beach and insisting on walking my horse as slowly as I could (though I was a good rider) so I could to give it a break. . . only to have the guide come up along beside my horse and whip it to go faster.
I find myself still deeply concerned with the inequality, abuse and greed still in the world today, but I guess I’m not as guilty as much about it anymore. I have the power to change the world with my empathy and compassion. I don’t make excuses saying: “life’s just inevitably going to be unfair, so it don’t matter if I add a little to it’s inequality, abuse and greed a little more.” When I see something I can change that would make life a little easier, more fair or just for anyone, and it’s in my power to do it, I make a point to do it. I made a pact with my conscience when I was 12, (at the time I thought it was God, and it was salvation) that I would never let a day go by that I went against my conscience’s little voice inside. That was the best decision I ever made!
If you can’t first respect yourself enough to do what you need to do in order to feel like a person deserving respect, how can you follow through to respect others? For a long time I was not listening to my conscience, (God I thought) but instead read the Bible and listened to spiritual authorities who told me that I needed to be content with, and even add to the injustice in the world. Every time my heart and mind rose up to tell me, “Angela you shouldn’t look down on them as a sinner below you” I would come back with the memorized excuse, “I’m hating the sin, but loving the sinner.” Every time my heart would break as I beat my innocent child (that is, biblically spanked them) into submission, my brainwashed mind would repeat “Spare the rod, spoil the child”. Every time a woman took the lead in anything without first asking her slave driver- that is godly leader of a husband- I was told she/I was usurping her/my authority. I knew that didn’t seem fair, and yet, I was told time and time again that I just needed to accept my lot in life and be happy. It’s no wonder I grew up quite a tom boy! And it’s no wonder I couldn’t stand the unfairness of life, it was all around me from childhood and sadly. . .I helped create it!
So maybe in retribution for the past I do what I do now in advocating for the minority, the abused, the downtrodden. I want the greedy put out of commission, and the poor to have a voice. What can I do to make a difference in the world before my little candle is snuffed out? All of my grand ideas take more time and money then I have to give right now with my young family of 6! So I content myself with my little corner of the world, and my neighborhood. I teach my children to follow in my footsteps, I live peacefully with and respect my Conservative Christian in-laws who live downstairs from our family (and that is quite a feat let me tell you!) I learn with and support woman in the community through numerous venues, I go to a UU church and I stay active as a blogger and with online petitions. The world may not seem changed yet, but all it takes sometimes is one voice to spread . . .will you be that voice with me to make a better world?