So in the past couple of months, my life has undergone some very subtle changes. In March, Sean and I got married. Woo! A couple weeks later, in April, I turned 30. Last week I had my wisdom teeth wrenched out. Kiara, my four year old, is getting ready to start school in the fall. We went to check out the Montessori school we want to put her in and we loved it.
All in all, nothing earth-shattering, but changes nonetheless.
And in it all, I've been thinking. (I know, terrifying.) I've been thinking a lot about my daughter, about life, about the different things going on in the world. (Come on, I live in Arizona and I'm not insane, so I do have some strong opinions about all the bullshit our legistlature is doing.) You'd have to be blind to not think that Dylan was right, kids. Things, they are a changin'. And I don't know if it's for the better, the worse, or none of the above. There's always a third option.
And, as a parent, I think of these changes and what they mean for my daughter. I think of the quote, "Be the change you want to see in the world."
Now... I saw this excellent blog yesterday wherein a woman tells the world that there isn't a weight limit for skinny jeans. I posted this on my Facebook and a wonderful discussion blossomed from women speaking out on their right to be happy in their own skins. It was brought up that it can't be a double standard...you can't just have "fat acceptance" and call the rest of the world skinny bitches. It doesn't work. You need "body acceptance".
The flap that's going on over immigration and the kids who were asked to leave school for wearing American flags on Cinco de Mayo...gay marriage...all of it is rooted in similar places in our culture. Places that like to single out the differences among us, places that would rather bitch and pass the blame along rather than DO something to solve a problem. As a culture, we like to think we're enlightened. We don't (publicly) have slaves and look at all the leaps and bounds civil rights have made. But looking around, that's, frankly, bullshit. Because while we've changed laws and some of our societal jargon... it's all still there. We haven't changed something very important.
The way we think.
We are so rooted in this cycle. Our culture repeats itself in our minds over and over again. It's in everything we see in advertising, in the foods we eat, in the movies we watch and the music we buy. It's in our gadets, in our books (e-and-storebought), our blogs. It's everywhere. And I know that sometimes it feels as if we're spinning inexorably, stop the world I wanna get off. That kinda thing.
But I was thinking about it today.
I think a lot of people think that it starts with our children. That they will do better than us. That they will be the changes we want to see in the world. And that's partially true. They see what is going on now and they will change the world they inherit just as we are changing what our parents, grandparents et cetera lived. It's evolution, it's change, it's natural. But how will we break out of this cycle if you expect the next generation to do it?
You want to get out of this cycle that constantly pressures us to live up to some societal ideal (white, heterosexual, 9-to-5 worker with abs of steel and an ass you could bounce quarters off of, perfect skin and gleaming white teeth with tits like rocks and a wrinkle free face, spending your money on American cars and processed foods and processed music and remakes of old movies or television shows) ... you want to break that cycle of bigotry that keeps gays from marrying on one side and paralyzes people with political correctness on the other?
Then BE that change.
Stop listening to the recording, stop giving into the fear that our media spouts at us. Stop giving in to the self-loathing fashion industry that tells you a woman can't have curves. Stop giving in to the idea that a man is just a seething lump of testosterone watching football. Stop giving in to the notion that zero fat/calories but an ingredients list you can't pronounce is "healthy". Just stop. Stop buying all the bullshit and make your own choices, your own decisions, your own opinions on what your life should be like. Stop listening to the voice of our culture and change the way we think.
It can't start with our children, it has to start with us. They are learning from us. They see what we're doing and if we perpetuate the broken record of our culture, so will they. They may legalize marijuana or gay marriage, they may have a society that isn't fatphobic... but there will be something else. There always is. In the 60's, America patted itself on the back by tearing down Jim Crow. We were so happy when the Berlin Wall came down. But, there's always something else... something else will rise in the place of our current issues to pacify our children and make them think they're doing a good job with the world.
Teach your children to think for themselves, to not be bullies, to not criticize differences but to embrace them and take joy in the diversity of our world. Teach your children not to focus on color, creed or sexuality, but on humanity. Stop bigotry before it can start and you can change the flow of the river. You can slow the cycle, and one tooth at a time, you can grind the gears to a halt.
Change the messages that are repeating over and over. Change the way we interact with each other. Change our focus from fear to hope. From negative to positive. Stop processing everything from food to music and live.
No, this isn't hippie bullshit. And it's not from a world that eats unicorns and poops rainbows.
This is something we can really do. It takes time. Results won't be instant. (And the voice of our culture wants it now. The voice of our culture says it's hard, that it will take too long to show a profit, that this way lies madness.) Tune out that voice.
Love yourself for who you are TODAY, not who you could be or who you want to be.
You don't need to be afraid. Find a tribe... friends, family... a group of people that you can support and be supported by. This works. Tribe Ohana has done amazing things over the past few years and will continue to do so.
Not out of fear, but out of wonder.
Be the change and you will see it. Our children will see it. And the world will change.
I'll step off my soapbox now. But I just want you all to know that you don't need to be afraid, you don't need to live in and out of fear. There is much to love in the world, including you.