Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Peacefully opposing the machine

The Occupy Honolulu encampment, an example of people peacefully acting upon their convictions
Throughout the history of humankind, there has resided within us an inherent opposition to injustice, oppression or pressure from powers greater than ourselves.  It is only when a human being finds the piece of him or herself that can no longer exist without action that change happens.  Maybe it's Queen Esther, finding it unfathomable that she should survive while her people were destined to be exterminated, and so petitioning the king for their safety.  Or it's William Wilberforce, unable to bear any longer the horror that is the selling of people as possessions, so much so that he spent 20 years of his life fighting to outlaw it.  Oscar Schindler couldn't stand the knowledge that one more Jewish person should be put to death, and so he rescued the ones he could.  Hawai'i's last queen, Lili'uokalani, refused to allow blood to be shed even as her country was stolen from her people, and surrendered, trusting that the overthrow would be found illegal.  Many lives were protected by her decision.

Until the day she died, Susan B Anthony fought for a woman's right to have a say and paved the way for women to legally vote.  Mohandas Gandhi wanted freedom for his native India from British rule, and so through nonviolent protest in words and actions, helped draw attention to the cause, which was ultimately achieved.   Mother Theresa saw the poorest outcasts dying and neglected and so helped them to have a chance at survival.  Martin Luther King Jr. knew all men were created equal, and spoke about it everywhere, inspiring laws that removed institutionalized skin color segregation in the United States.  Rachel Carson learned of the devastating effects of chemical poisons on our world and all who inhabit it and wrote a book laying out every graphic detail of the destruction that was being wrought.  And today, all over the internet community, people are participating in a blackout, protesting SOPA, a bill that would censor the web and restrict the freedom we currently have to share information.

We have no less power than any of these people.  All it takes to make a difference is to bolster our words with our choices and actions.  It is then that we inspire and awaken human conscience.  It is then that we can be agents of change for what we believe to be right.   People may poke fun, scathing remarks may be made, we may even be in harm's way, but making choices that match up with our ideals is important if a difference is to be made.

I have been faced with these kinds of choices.  When I was growing up, my family always stood and held signs speaking of a child's right to life.  It was when I found i was pregnant, unwed, and certainly unprepared to have a child that I was given the chance to act on my convictions.  I chose life for my daughter, Eva.  I cannot fathom having made any different choice, and cannot imagine my world without her.  Since then, I have been able to encourage many other girls in the same situation, reminding them that they're not alone.

Later, as Eva grew closer to school age, I was faced with another choice.  I had nursed her, taught her to speak, and was soon faced with the prospect of sending her away for the bulk of the day to school.  I felt it was my duty to raise my child, to teach her in the ways her daddy and I hoped she would grow, and for me, I knew it meant having her by our sides.  Today, she and her four younger siblings are educated primarily at home, but also enriched in their learning by many outside sources.  This is how I see education to be: a very cooperative endeavor in which the primary caregivers are the driving force.  I am thankful for all those who went before me to make the choice to home school today a legally legitimate one.

With all of these children, there is a lot of food that comes and goes, as well as clothes, toys and other products.  It is only natural that these things would fall into another area of scrutiny in my mind.  As I come to see the harm that industrial production of these things does to our bodies, to our soil and to the freedom of those who produce these things for us, I am left with no choice but to change.  It is only in small ways, where consistency is possible, that we are changing.  We grow a garden each year and purchase simple foods with minimal processing.  We are learning how to support businesses that respect their workers as human beings with those same certain inalienable rights that we ourselves are entitled to.

Most importantly, I am learning how to hold onto the fire in my heart and the nagging thoughts in my conscience.  I am learning to channel them into action, and to teach my children to do the same.  This is how we oppose and change the machine: with ruthless peaceful action. What will you take action on today?

1 comment:

I love it when people comment! Thanks for taking the time to do so!