A GREAT UNCLE’S DESIRE
I am not a parent but I have some terrific kids in my life. Thank God for Zoom and Face Time so I can continue to watch them grow and develop and remind them what a loving and yet annoying great uncle I can be (hey, that’s what great uncles are for.) And for Amazon so I can spoil them a little (hey, that’s what great uncles for for).
Here’s the deal. I will be off on another mystical adventure when my great nieces and nephews are well into adulthood. And I want to leave them in a country, in a world that rises up to meet their needs. That protects their choices. That honors their gender. That celebrates the way they worship.
Two of my great nieces, Ella and Emme, are mixed race. My niece is half Puerto Rican and half Italian American. Their father is a man of color. They have a spirit and an energy and, yes, a rebellious streak in them. I am not with them 24/7 so that rebellious streak might get a little old after a while. But I celebrate it in them. That rebellion will make them question authority when it needs to be questioned
So much progress has been made in regards to racial equality and women’s rights. And here we are. I’m watching so much of that being destroyed. The people that came before us who risked their lives for gender and racial equality having their dreams and their efforts being stomped out.
When Kamala Harris gave her eloquent speech accepting her Vice Presidential nomination my husband texted me, “I’m thinking of Ella and Emme.” It gave me pause. YES. The door has been opened. A woman. A woman of color. A possible Vice President of the United States of America. It’s there for them. The example which can give them a vision…a goal. And it’s about time for gosh sakes!!!!!
You can never be too old for that vision. My heart was full of pride when a legally married gay man by the name of Pete Buttigeig was in the running for President of the United States. And it wasn’t just because he was gay. His character, his service to our country played a very large part in how I felt about him. I walked around a little taller. Had a surge of hope. And a bit of sadness when he dropped out of the race. But he ain’t going anywhere. He’ll be making history.
I have a great niece-in-law in California, a six year old named Taylor Grace. My husband has been teaching her Italian. She showed my husband her new doll. It was a dark-skinned doll. It’s the doll she selected when given the choice. Needless to say, her gay, liberal great uncles were cheering.
Taylor lives in Orange County, California. Predominately white. But she chose a doll that looks different from her and her family. She didn’t see race. She saw beauty. Of course, she has really cool parents who encourage her open mindedness. And she’s a really cool kid herself.
I have a great niece, Chloe. This kid has got soul. When my Mother was transitioning we did at home hospice. We surrounded my Mom in the last week of her life with familial love. All the great nieces and nephews were in the room with her if they wanted to be. They were ranging in age from 2 to 4. You could see the apprehension in some of them. Of course. By that time my Mom wasn’t the grandmom they were used to. And her appearance started to reflect that she was ready to transition. Chloe exhibited no apprehension. She climbed in the hospice bed with my Mom. Tried to feed my Mom a vanilla milkshake through a straw (my Mother had one hell of a sweet tooth). At first I was a bit impatient with Chloe. “Let Grandmom sleep.” But then I realized I shouldn’t quash her nurturing spirit. She wasn’t afraid. She wanted to nurture. To show love. That’s to be embraced.
My gosh but children bring me to my knees. They make me laugh from the gut. Make me cry from my soul. They are awash in possibilities. Of course adults need to be the filter. But we should also adapt and grow with them. Their shape and form doesn’t just change in how they grow physically but how they grow intellectually, spiritually, socially. It’s not our job to put them in a box that suits us. It’s our job to protect. To advise. To nuture. To educate. And to learn from them. I want them to have a chance. I do not want them to grow up in a country that is bigoted, anti-Semitic, homophobic. racist, violent. That is all Zoom and not in person. I don’t want them to grow up thinking you can be 17 years old and have 2 murders on your scoreboard. I don’t want them to spit at police officers who put their lives on the line everyday. But I also don’t want them to think that because you wear a police uniform you are above reproach.
These past three and a half years have made me militant. We owe future generations a better world. A kinder world.
And given what is happening we are doing future generations a disservice. Which means we are robbing our country…our world a loving place to live in.
This is not about politics. It’s about right and wrong. It appalls me that anyone who has a wife, a daughter, a mother can support any misogynist holding a political office, running a movie studio, playing in a sports arena, etc.
It’s that old “boys will be boys” adage. Well, how bout men being men? I mean real men. Men who don’t look at women as chattel. Men who don’t need their masculinity assured by dominating a woman. Men who are not threatened by the presence of a strong, independent, intelligent woman.
My ire also travels over to women who think this kind of misogyny is “manly” and the norm.
We also need good examples for the next generation of men. I have a couple of great nephews and I want them to know that their maleness has nothing to do with grabbing a woman on any body part and laughing about it. That mold HAS TO BE SHATTERED AND IT HAS TO BE SHATTERED NOW. And both sexes need to come to the table for that to be shattered. Not doing it. And not tolerating it when it’s done.
Many times I accepted the status quo. But the status quo of the past few years is simply unacceptable. And I will fight those who think it is acceptable. With my words, my actions and with my vote.
We owe it to the innocents. I want to leave the children of this world a fabulous inheritance. I don’t want to leave them with my unpaid bills…with my debt. I want them to inherit abundance of spirit and joy and pride. I want them to breathe clean air. I want them to love their neighbor regardless of race, religion, sexuality.
A child’s spirit is so bright. Our adult jadedness can be blinded by it. We need to put on our Ray Bans and let their sun and spirit shine brilliantly.
There’s evidence of that bright light in these young men and women who nearly lost their lives in what was once considered a safe place years ago…their schools. They are standing up and demanding to be heard. We need to cheer them. Celebrate them. They are demonstrating courage and conviction and providing us with a societal moral compass.
Nelson Mandela said it so eloquently. “History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.”
So let’s make a difference…let’s set the example…not just for future generations…but in the childlike innocence we all have within us right now!!!!!