Tuesday, I showed students a five minute clip of Martin Luther King, Jr. giving his I Have a Dream speech. Prior to this we read a selection by his sister, Christine Farris King, in which she shared comical and heartbreaking childhood stories. One day MLK went to his mother in tears after he was rejected by some kids because of their racist parents. Ten-year-old, MLK promised his mother one day he would “Turn the World Upside Down.” I taught the students about the atmosphere and the times. We read about the Civil Rights Movement and about the historic March on Washington. It was difficult for us to wrap our heads around the injustice that occurred back then. We read about peaceful demonstration. I told them, discrimination and hatred still happen today, that’s why YOU and the Golden Rule are so important.
As Inauguration Friday grew near, I made a decision. Due to a series of unfortunate political events in our country, I have been somewhat troubled. So much so, that these fears have increasingly found place in my prayers. So Friday, among much testing, I took the advice of Lemony Snicket to Look Away. So in good conscience, I avoided the scene of sensationalism that accompanies a new Presidential Mantle, and instead we broke out the Mattel Hot Wheels and celebrated a days work.
A culture of fear is consuming our country. Social media is seething with hate and fear and it is frightening. I try to be unshakeable. I wonder how children understand our times and how parents explain it to them. The unrest has also caught the attention of an onlooking World who is seeing America divided by politics and ugly, banal displays of indecency from those individuals we want to trust to lead.
I mostly avoid News because it gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Some days, Pepto just doesn’t fix it. This weekend, if I hadn’t been teaching and coaching, I might have marched with a few of my kickboxing friends who have agendas. You might have seen the Sweat Sisters sandwiched between tourists and celebrity Sundance, with upwards of eight thousand snow-booted protestors navigating snowbanks on Main Street Park City, Utah. We would have made big noise, while toting signs and tromping along with thousands of diverse women, Liberals, non-Liberals, and anyone feeling marginalized and debased….but I wasn’t there.
Instead, I was where I ought to be shivering, white-knuckled on a crowded swim bus, hoping and praying we’d prevail in the snow and ice on I-80. In the sure hands of a confident driver, we rolled on, like a yellow submarine cutting through icy water. Westbound, up and over Parley’s Summit, we climbed and braked, inched, and waited, unsure if we’d also be stopped, or turned around due to weather and travel restrictions. Fortunately, we made it safely and on time to the Invitational. I’m certain many of the stopped motorists in that other East-bound line-up didn’t make it to their destinations and showtimes, because traffic spanned more than thirty snow-packed miles! Unbelievable! In the thirty years I’ve lived in Summit County, I’ve never seen that kind of back-up in the canyon!
The Women’s March must have been something to behold! Glad Utah weighed in as one of the many Marches that day! Voices raised in rural, ski towns like Park City, and in major metropolitan cities across the country,and the world! Voices raised! And while the ultra-Conservative crowd criticized, (or fell safely silent) I said to myself, “Heck yeah! Speak up and be heard.” Speak up Utah. Speak up L.A.. Speak up NYC. Speak up Washington. Speak up London. Speak up Paris. Speak up, World. Amazing what can be organized and accomplished! Now, work more toward increased sisterhood and brotherhood, understanding, peace and civility. Have meaningful, respectful discourse. Think, and offer solutions. Don’t just wear your bling opinions like go-to-town costume jewelry. Don’t just condemn and point fingers. Live each day with integrity, in quiet acts of compassion and love in your community of influence.
A self-absorbed nation without good will toward one another will not prevail. America must look to the God of ALL people who brings healing. But we must believe with humility and act with compassion and courage. We must rekindle kindness and trust in every day living. The world is watching, Mr. President, and everyone. What are you willing to do for your country that you wouldn’t brag about or flaunt when no one is watching? You are a servant of the people. Act like one. Make us believe you can lead. For now, I’ll mostly Look Away and pray as I live a quiet life of meaning….watching out for my children and guarding them from Count Olaf!