Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oh mother, where art thou? (from Erica)

Yesterday was my now-deceased grandfather's birthday. If he were still around, he would be 95 years old. His wife, my grandmother, was born just a couple of months before him. Both of them have been dead for several years now, but they both survived into the 1990s and their lives saw many changes.

Consider this: when my grandparents were born, women didn't have the vote. Abortion was illegal. Sex discrimination was acceptable on and off the job, and sexual and domestic abuse weren't uniformly recognized as crimes. Segregation and overt racism were the norm. By the time my grandmother was my mother's age, the world was on the brink of radical change as social movements everywhere erupted into life. By the time she died, my grandmother was every bit a citizen as her husband.

In spite of this, my grandmother was an incredible woman. She was orphaned at the age of 14, and went to work supporting her sister and her cousin thereafter. She raised five daughters, the first people in the family to graduate from high school, who have all gone on to have successful careers and family lives. When she wasn't employed while raising my mother and aunts, she dedicated her time and energy to the local Red Cross chapter. To this day, that chapter holds an annual blood drive in her name.

Sometimes, I think we look at the rights we do and don't have codified and see those as the limits of our capabilities. We don't have the right to vote, so we have no social power. We don't have the right to sit on the train, so we have no humanity. We don't have the right to get married, so we don't have the ability to take care of each other. But we forget that those codified rights aren't our limits. We're amazing, strong, forceful people regardless of what government organization tells us we can and cannot do.

So here's today's question: what do YOU do in spite of your perceived limitations? How are YOU changing the world, one step at a time?

1 comment:

  1. My grandparents were born in the 30's and 40's...

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