It was today’s Supreme Court announcement that inspired this blog post. I think my kids are young enough that they won’t ever fully understand how momentous this day is. In their experience, the only reason people won’t get married, is because they don’t want to.
We have this cute little picture book, My Name is Not Isabella, by Jennifer Fosberry. It is about a little girl (adorably illustrated by Mike Litwin) who goes through her day imagining she is one or another of her various heroes – er, heroines.
When it is time to catch the school bus, she proclaims “I am Rosa, the greatest, bravest activist who ever was!”
We found ourselves having to explain a couple of tough concepts to the kids. What is an activist? Why would riding a bus make someone an activist?
We wanted to explain this carefully. See, the kids are getting a special kind of education from so many people, and it would be easy for us to undermine it. I’m sure other kids – and adults, too – are getting the same sorts of lessons, and don’t even know it, from people who probably don’t even know that they are teaching.
There are so many of you who might not even realize you are changing the world. Folks that we interact with everyday. Folks we see so often, we forget that at one point, someone considered you “different.” And my kids won’t ever know that. They see you every day. The family down the street who greet us with a wave every day (and give out great Halloween candy). Those two nice ladies at the park who let us pet their dog. The child having a meltdown at the park. The woman breastfeeding in the coffee shop. The deaf lady at the grocery store who has a hug for her regulars. The house across from the mailbox with a pau-kau mirror, and the friends with mezuzot on their doorposts. The lady in the wheelchair who is a one-woman welcoming committee at extra-curricular activities. The family who always brings something on “Celebrate Culture” day. The heavily-accented couple down the street who sit on the porch, and share lemonade and cookies with passers-by on summer evenings. The mom who volunteers for every school event. The dad who helps out in the classrooms and in the safety patrol at school. The man next door with a nice yard. The man who helps with yard work. The teenager who goes for a long walk in the park the same time every day. Regular folks, interacting in regular ways. Y’all are the heroes who are really changing the world. Did you know? Just by being you. My kids don’t see anything as different. Because you have taught them that you are just you.
Kids aren’t the only ones whose perspective I’m thinking of. After a while, the grownups start to see it, too. Someone who might at one point have not necessarily helped one of “those people,” will help their neighbor, because “I know him. He’s good people.”
And, in your own small way, one neighbor at a time, you have changed the world.
I will do my best not to undermine the lessons we are all teaching each other.
I am not strange. I am just not normal. – Salvadore Dali