24 Jan Slice of Life: Not Being Political is a Privilege
I am an avid reader. So often, throughout my life, I have connected with the secondary characters in historical fiction. I never imagine being the main character – facing adversity beyond imagination, making change, standing up for what is right. The characters that keep me up at night, that cause me to have to get real with myself, are always the secondary characters.
Would I hide a family in my home?
Would I risk my children to save someone else’s?
Would I have the courage to risk my safety when I do not have to?
Would I put the people I love in danger to stand up for justice?
I know this sounds selfish and shallow, but it is my truth. I hope I would. I believe I would. But that is a strength that has been untested in my life. I do my part in my community. I contribute time and money to causes. I stand for what I believe is just and kind, but all from the safety of my life – my privileged life. I do no harm; in fact, I do good – but only good within my comfort zone.
I am a secondary character. I have not considered myself to be political thus far in my life. As an educator, I stay clear of sharing my political views. I do not want to alienate collaborations with other educators. I want to have an open mind and always be responsive to another person’s point of view. I want to be approachable and make others feel safe learning with me. Even as I write this post, I worry I am going too far, revealing too much. As an educator I also have an insatiable, relentless belief that every human being has the capacity to learn and to change. I believe everyone has a point of view and it is only by striving to understand another’s point of view that change and progress can be made. By sharing my views I worry I will quiet the voices of others, voices I need to hear in order to understand. When politics become heated, I strive to see the other point of view and believe a person can learn, can change. I am hopeful. I stay comfortable. I stay quiet. I choose to play it safe.
While I did choose to march in Boston on Saturday, I was, in truth, a little afraid. I even debated if I should go.
Would it make a difference?
Could I do my part in a different way?
I don’t really like crowds.
What if something goes wrong?
Is it worth risking my safety?
I saw one sign at the march that spoke to me, directly to me, and has stayed with me since – causing me to pause, reflect and act. It said:
Not being political is a privilege.
These words are true – my truth. It is a privilege. It has been my privilege. I chose to march on Saturday, but I marched from the safety of my privilege.
So how can I move beyond privilege, maintain my belief in humanity’s potential, consider all points of view and advocate for what I believe to be just? How do I move beyond being a secondary character? I look to the words of Brene Brown, “Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up,” and yet I realize that while this may be true she also says, “You can choose courage or you can choose comfort, but you cannot have both.” (Daring Greatly) I must choose.
Not being political is a privilege. Not being political is a choice.
I am choosing and I am prepared to be uncomfortable. I believe in the potential of humanity. I believe in change and the power of each person to make change. I am privileged. I do not know what it is like to be the main character of so many realities, but I am here, I am ready and I choose to show up. I will show up for children – all children – who have the right to education, health and equality. I will fight, protect, advocate, listen and show up for them. I will choose to be political for children, all children. I will show up and choose discomfort to support those who need my voice and my privilege.