the privilege and the responsibility of the act of empathy

…there was one performances this year that stunned me; it sank its hooks in my heart, not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job—it made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth.

It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter—someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie; it was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing.

Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose. …

Just in case you missed it, I just had to share with you part of Meryl Streep’s speech as she accepted the Cecile B DeMille award. Yes, I know, awards shows are so much more enjoyable without that political crap…not that awards shows have EVER gotten political about things like abortion, the environment, dolphins, the financial crisis, foreign affairs, wars, immigration, LBGT rights, Presidential campaigns, treatment of Native Americans, race, the AIDS crisis…This is nothing new; and as long as we can enjoy our First Amendment Right, I imagine that it will likely continue as long as there is a value or belief or platform to support or protest. People can get pissy when a woman on stage expresses such thoughts saying that she has no right to talk about politics, but she wasn’t talking politics. What Ms Streep was talking about was common decency and respect. Because when the person about to take the position of respected power in our country continues to act like a bully mocking those who oppose him, it does filter down into everybody’s life where people imagine they have permission to do the same thing.

My kid told me pretty much that recently when he expressed how mad he is still over the Presidential election outcome. Some might say he’s just a kid and really shouldn’t have an opinion. But he does. He should. He will be able to vote in the next Presidential election and he plans on voting to get rid of the bully. Perhaps he doesn’t have the words or the physical strength to fight against those who mock people like him but he does understand that he does have the privilege and responsibility to show respect and kindness…even when they are standing right beside him mocking him as he receives an award for respect and kindness. Mom is glaring murdering daggers at those middle school-aged boys until he makes eye contact chiding, Mom, don’t, because in the end, kindness and respect wins…and it will always, as long as we are brave enough to remind each other of our privilege and responsibility.

help, don’t hurt

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, don’t hurt them.

` Dalai Lama

I imagine that I always knew that I was born to serve others. My younger siblings, my mother…my own family, my grand babies, my community, my country, my world. From the time that I was a young girl, I was taught one serves with humility rather than for show. Great things done in service don’t need a parade to make an impact; nor do they need to be big and bold. It’s what is in one’s heart that should drive one in service, no matter where they are. And so I have done just that. I have served in ways that I know have made a difference…in my own family, my community, my country, my world.

Point and scream at the tragedy that is a children’s hospital in Aleppo being bombed and scream at me that my outrage and heartbreak isn’t enough and I will quietly ask what are you doing? What have you been doing? Tell me I should be there or somewhere else and I will ask you again. Are you going? Are you giving?

What are YOU doing to help others…in Aleppo, in your hometown, in every corner of the globe where help is needed?

Did you vote?

Do you give generously of your money, your talents, your goods, YOUR TIME?

Do you support, educate and encourage others to serve? Or do you stand on your soap box demanding others to do more because you imagine that what they are doing is not ever enough?

You don’t know what is inside my heart. You are not living inside my heart.

Tell me that I am am not doing enough, not doing it right, not in the right place or the right time and I will likely wonder about your privilege that allows you to presume so much. And then I will put my head down in determination and continue to serve…my family, my community, people of color, LGBT, immigrants, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, atheists. I will offer my kindness and care to millionaires, homeless, prostitutes, thieves, Assistant District Attorneys, celebrities, politicians, media personalities. I will serve with love the battered, abused, addicted, marginalized and undocumented. I have literally devoted so many years to so many of these and more. My time, my energy, my heart, my lunch and scooby snacks, my ear, my hugs, my heart…and so much more.

Tell me again that I am not doing enough and I will pause thinking of the tiny one I held and comforted for hours last night, just as I have done for years and years with countless other babies – children of all of the above and so much more. I see that sweet baby, who has survived so much already in literally the days that she has been alive and I think of that which a baby on the other side of the world in Aleppo has managed to survive as well with her own nurse, not unlike me and I will cry; I will feel outrage because we are sisters and brothers at the same isolette or thousands of miles away from each other.

Not enough, you declare.

Fine.

Not enough.

But you can’t possibly know my heart, my service, my benevolence, my impact in this world, right here, right now. Rant and rage on your little soap box while I quietly put on my scrubs and head back and do what I do…plus a helluva lot more that is really not your business and no one else except for the god I pray to and people whose lives I do impact for good…

and I will give thanks, always.

Tell me, what are you doing in your community, in Aleppo, anywhere?

a safe and special place

In the news this weekend, Vice President-elect Mike Pence managed to score tickets to Hamilton and, SURPRISE, the audience reacted with a mixture of applause and boos as he entered the theater. The cast of Hamilton proved to be some pretty classy people with this message to Mr. Pence as he was leaving.

Of course, surprise, surprise, our President-elect took to Twitter demanding apologies for the harassment of his man because the theater must always be a safe and special place much like a movie theater, a shopping mall, a college campus, a workplace, a grocery store, an elementary school…and even a park, a park and playground where children should be able to play…to play in a safe and special place.

All Americans certainly do deserve the right to enjoy feeling safe in special places. Places where we can bring our children and grandchildren.

And a theater? Well. Surrounded by a Secret Service detail, Mr. Pence was undoubtedly very safe, as were the rest of the people in the Richard Rogers Theater last night as they enjoyed the show. But safe theater is essentially dead theater. A show about American Revolution history, idealistic men and women, immigrants and politics…messy, messy politics that sometimes happens in backrooms where the sausage gets made. Pence, I imagine, was provoked not only by the audience reaction to his entering the room where it happened, but also by the play itself and what was a very respectful statement from the cast thanking him for his attendance. Some argue that any whisper of politics did not belong at the end of a musical about American history and politics in their statement during the curtain call asking him to remember that “We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

Harassment?

Hardly. Not when one is a public figure and duly elected to represent the interests of ALL the people, not just those with Trump written on their Starbucks cups who promise to boycott a popular musical with a months-long wait list to buy tickets. The noise Mr. Trump and his Trumpeters might post all over social media might distract us briefly from things like the emoluments clause of The Constitution or that Mr. Trump settled his Trump University fraud case against him, but only briefly.

Get used to it, Mr. Trump, Mr. Pence and your surrogates. As long as the First Amendment is there people will speak and sometimes speak very loudly because, thankfully, our Founding Fathers put such rights into place for us ALL to enjoy in our safe and special places.

Meanwhile, the kids will take back their own special, safe places because, in the end, love trumps hate.

j

I think everybody has the ability to affect change…through our every thought our every word, the way that we interact with other people. We are constantly affecting the world.

Adam Yauch

stronger joined together

It’s been a week now, and I am certain it’s going to be a LOOONNNGGG four years…with that administration that will take office January 20 and those who are probably already prepping for the 2020 election season.

UGH!

Anyone else struggling to think positively?

Already there has been too much ugly, too much anger, too much bitterness that divides…and I am not even talking about Trump supporters versus Hillary supporters. No. Family, friends, like-minded folk literally cannibalizing one another all because one is more right than the other…always.

It’s going to be so much more difficult I imagine before it gets easier. There is no getting around that truth. But we can, we should and we will get through to the other side…together.

We look different. We think, feel, dream, pray, love in so many different ways; but we are all humans together. Lovers, fighters, friends, family, black, brown, white, gay, straight, we are all together and so much stronger joined together.

Or we can focus on that which makes us different and separates us and could very well destroy us; because obviously there is only one right which is why family, friends, like-minded folk are fighting so damn hard against each other. 

Deep thoughts that came to me in the waning, but chaotic moments of the end of a long night at work. After lively o’dark thirty discussions about the election last week, and not just who our President elect is, because plastic bags are banned, recreational pot is legal, low level criminals will be freed and how about that death penalty and everyone on death row right now along with those god-damned safety pins. Sharp lines drawn, opinions expressed…but without name-calling or bridge burning because, just imagine, grown ups; and because we can and do indeed work together and work together very well, especially when we do what we do in my NICU.

We also put on some pretty kick-ass potlucks.

Diversity, tied together and making kick-ass potlucks together. Hurray for that! 

Diversity is about all of us, and about us having to figure out how to walk through this world together.

~ Jacqueline Woodson

 

cool to be kind

Today is World Kindness Day and in observing a day that has been globally observed since 1998 in order to just stop and be kind to one another for the sake of being kind, I find myself struggling just a little bit.

Being kind should not be hard. It isn’t hard. It really is not.

Okay, maybe it is hard because we sometimes want so hard to be right…All. The. Time.

So while there is SO MUCH NOISE about big things and little things and how I should be thinking and feeling and acting on them, I am going to try to be kind.

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough. ~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt