My heart has been heavy the last few weeks. Actually, it’s been heavy since the beginning of this year.
At this point, I don’t know if it will ever feel right again.But within the last few weeks, things have troubled my heart and I am not sure how to even process most of what I have seen and heard.
Maybe I’ve just lived a very sheltered life. One tends to think everything is fine in our little bubble, or rationalizes if anything bad happens, it doesn’t happen where we live.
As long as things aren’t happening directly to us or someone we care about, it gets pushed to the back of our filter. Some things seem too horrible and cruel to be real. We don’t want to accept those atrocities because we don’t want to believe they can happen.
Many don’t want to do anything about those occurrences; others don’t even know what to do or where to begin.
People have spoken out, in an effort to process what they are going through and said the wrong things unintentionally. Others have added their voices with the sheer directive of causing more pain and hurt. And, some people didn’t say anything at all, because they weren’t sure what to say.
I know I’ve had a hard time finding the words. My heart and brain couldn’t make the connection on this kind of hate. I tried to find a way to understand how some people can hate so much, and I couldn’t. I didn’t understand why people were angry about things that seemed to be more important than the fact a man lost his life. I didn’t understand why some were furious that others were hurting and fighting for change — change that is needed.
It was just something that when I think about the things that I have held true — to treat everyone equally, to be kind, to be compassionate, to have empathy — I struggled with processing.
I saw a lot of things on the news that upset me. I saw even more on social media that troubled me deeply. I saw some people I considered to be friends post some really shockingly hate-filled things. A sick feeling grew in my stomach. Where did this hate come from?
I didn’t know what to do, or what to say, and have definitely never done any social activism.
The closet thing I had ever witnessed were the few times Mama went on strike when I was younger. It wasn’t social activism, but she was trying to make things better.
The first time she went on strike, I didn’t understand what was really going on; I only knew Mama was home with me more and that was a good thing.
“Why are you striking, Mama?” I asked.
“So we will have better working conditions,” she said.
“Why isn’t everyone striking?”
“Not everyone is in the union. Not everyone can be out of work. Not everyone cares about the things we are striking for.”
“If they don’t strike, does that mean they don’t get the things y’all are striking for?” I asked.
“No, they will get them, too,” Mama said.
“That’s not fair!” I exclaimed.
It didn’t seem fair at all. Why were some people making the sacrifices and doing all the work, when people who weren’t got to reap the same benefits? I thought it was crummy. Justice and fairness are huge themes for me, and that imbalance did not sit well.
“It’s fine,” Mama said.
I disagreed. I don’t even know how old I was, but I was opinionated.
“Kitten, those that can fight the battle should. Whatever they can do. If it means we all get better working conditions, then it needs to be done.”
“But you’re not working and that means you don’t get paid. How are you going to take care of me?” I cried.
Her wanting to fight the good fight affected me so this was quite personal to me.
“That’s temporary,” she said. “It will change. But what we’re fighting for is longer term.”
“How so?” I asked.
“It will make the road easier for those that come after us,” she replied. “And sometimes, that’s part of why we’re doing it. Not just for us in the here and now, but those behind us.”
I thought about this and some truths began to sink in. I knew Mama always did the right thing and she would never do anything to intentionally hurt me. She always told me to be kind and compassionate, even when it may be a hard choice to make, and tried to teach me to have empathy, even when I didn’t think it was warranted. I may not know the whole situation.
Fairness for all was important to her then and still is now. I asked her to take me to the picket line with her, and surprisingly, she did, even though they were picketing on a busy road in Athens.
One year, I was shocked to see one of Mama’s closest work friends cross the picket line. Unlike the others, Mama didn’t call him a scab. She just told me he had his reasons for needing to cross and that was his choice.
I walked with her on the various years they went on strike, until someone fired a gun near the picket line. One of her friends lost her hearing in one ear because it was so close.
I’ve been thinking about some of those principles over the last few weeks, even though what’s happening now is on a much, much bigger scale and in a totally different situation.
There’s been a lot of disparity, a lot of areas that need to be drastically improved and changed.
And like Mama said, it’s not just for now, but those that are coming behind us.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.