It’s no secret I have been on the road a lot lately, logging miles like it’s my job. I am no stranger to a 5 hour drive, 2-3 hours of work, and a 5 hour drive back home. Even leaving at 10am to return at 3am the next morning isn’t odd anymore. Why? Well, let’s just say it’s a five word saying that you may or may not have heard me mention once. Maybe twice. I do it because it’s what drives me. I do it… For love of the game.
It’s also gotten me interested in novels again. For so long, I have read nothing but inspirational, self-help, business books. The ones that would keep me awake at night, thinking of all the things I needed to apply to my life. Lately, I have chosen a few novels. The last book I got was an audio book to help pass the hours in the car. Best sixteen bucks I think have spent in a long time. The book is called “The Help” and it’s about Mississippi in the 1960’s… The maids and the white women they serve. And it is fantastic.
The other night, I pulled in my driveway at 2:35am and found myself so riveted to the book, I was almost upset my 5+ hour drive home from the University of Virginia had come to an end.
I think what had me so attached was the feeling I had as I listened to the voices pull at me through my speakers. Speaking about different times, but similar issues, similar feelings. I was ashamed in moments that were so descriptive of how things were. That we, as a society really could treat each other this way. And then I found myself thinking about the issues we cling to today. Not much has changed, just different people fighting similar battles of ignorance and misunderstanding.
Those who stood up for what was right back then were outcasts to the rest of society, treated like trash, like enemies, like those they were standing up for.
I wonder… why is it so easy to turn our back on someone who differs from us? Someone who’s perspective is not what we consider ours? Someone who maybe is doing the one thing we wish we could do? Is that it? Are we jealous because they have a voice?
I remember reading about the eye color experiment early on in my master’s program. The one where Jane Elliot, the third-grade teacher in the 1960’s, told blue eyed children they were superior to the brown-eyed children the first day, and then reversed the exercise on the second day. There was some outcry. People were accusing her of trying out this “cruel experiment on white children” and how could she? She was all of a sudden unpopular with her neighbors, and those around town who used to see her as a wonderful teacher. Her parent’s store was boycotted. They filed for bankruptcy soon after. She was shunned, shut out, made to feel like an outcast. Just like the children she was standing up for.
The truth is, she was teaching her students a life long lesson that day. She did something a lot of others were afraid to do. So did Rosa Parks. So did Dr. King. So did Miss Skeeter and the 13 maids who spoke out in the book. They had each others backs… regardless.
No conditions. NO “if you do this, or if it doesn’t compromise me in the eyes of others.” No maybes. Regardless is a pretty strong word. It means “no matter what.”
Veteran’s Day seemed like the right day to feel what I was feeling about civil rights… about bullying… about defending freedom regardless. Standing up for those who are too afraid, too young, too old, too disrespected, too quiet, too hurt, too much like me. Maybe we should stand a little more often. Maybe we should force others to stand next to us.
Maybe we should tell them.
No more maybes.
We should tell them.
I’ve got your back. Regardless.