Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Valedictory Address Reprisal: Modified

As we sit here today justifiably proud of all we have endured and accomplished to earn the right to wear cap and gown, we must remember that with rights come responsibilities. Education opens the mind to the workings of the world, and the vast possibilities and problems within it. Just as it may take the voice of one professor to open the mind of a student, so too, do you now carry the weighty responsibility to judiciously use your own voice. Develop a social conscience. Develop an environmental conscience. Take an interest and accept some responsibility for what goes on around you. If there is something that needs saying, whether protest, agreement, warning, or celebration, make yourself heard. If no one listens, yell, scream, rage if you must, but be heard! Human beings are murdered as others listen and do nothing. Our rainforests and wildlife are disappearing. Adults and children are homeless and starving. Our youth are killing each other in the streets. The same streets where crime runs rampant. We cannot be afraid to advocate for what we know is right. Damn the repercussions, damn the controversy, and damn the gossip. We cannot accept, ignore or insulate ourselves from reality. In this country so many have put their lives on the line for freedom. We are a country that prizes, cherishes and protects freedom of speech. Why then, do we spend our lives so afraid to speak up, to speak out? It has been said, that life is a series of choices. If this is true, then I beg of you, choose to use the gift that is your voice. Use it as a caress when appropriate, and a sword when necessary. But do not remain one of the silent majority. Silence, is not always golden.
My closing thoughts to you are these:
Challenge the status quo. Go where no person has gone before. Dare to stand in the line of fire. And above all, refuse to be intimidated.

Writers note: This address was appropriate oh so many years ago, and is equally appropriate today. Not only for new college graduates, but for all who inhabit this planet.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Adoption "B" Word

My 12 year old daughter used yesterday for the first time what I have come to call the adoption "B" word. The "B" standing for birth mother. I have to wonder if all adoptive mothers feel the same way. This tug down deep, a pull so strong, an aversion, and yet you smile and address the questions and probings. It is not for lack of appreciation for the womb from which they came. It is the gut wrenching pull of them using the term mother about another person. Looking at this child, that I love with all I have, nurture and fight to raise with morals and compassion, I want to scream you are mine, all mine. But the curiosity is normal and that push pull on my insides makes me feel like small rocks are gathering in the pit of my being and weigh heavier and heavier with each passing moment. She tells me she would like to find her one day even though she knows nothing about her. I fight my own demons and tell her that I have information for her, and when she is old enough I will share it. "How old?" she asks. I tell her 18, or 21, when I think you are mature enough to handle it. There is a silent scream of torment in my mind, a brief futuristic glimpse of a meeting and someone else being called Mom. It brings tears to my eyes that I hide and a sharp visceral pain. She is not old enough yet to know, or be able to comprehend the circumstances of her birth and subsequent adoption. I will not share it on here for that is for her ears and hers alone. She deserves that respect. She asks with surprise, "you'll let me meet her?". It takes all of the strength of my being to answer that I will help you to do that if that is what you want. I can't tell her how desperately I don't want to do this. I can't describe the feeling of panic that washes over me briefly. Her look of surprise and pleasure is shockingly disconcerting. She seems satisfied for the moment and she lets the subject rest. She goes on to watch TV looking peaceful, topic forgotten. I wish it were that easy for me. Once the "B" word is out in the open it is the elephant in the room. For now my 7 year old is content with knowing he was born in my heart. He knows he is adopted but it has little meaning for him. This too will change, and I dread that. You believe you are prepared. You go into adoption knowing the parameters. Knowing that children deserve truth, and that these questions will come. No one though, can prepare for those moments, and the complexity of emotions they stir up. I gather my senses and build up my strength for the next round. It is inevitable. It will come. It will. It will.

Human Nature

It has been an unfortunate week. I have seen some of the worst of humanity and I am trying to process it all through. I have dealt with lies and manipulation to the point of nausea. What makes a person operate at such a level? What makes others join them in their destruction? What makes a soul so damaged and blackened that morality never enters into their day to day operations? Envy and jealousy will blacken your innards and eat you up from the inside out. I wish that others would appreciate the gifts given them. We are all given gifts, different from each other, but equally valuable none the less. Make peace with what you are given, whether they be physical attributes, tangible goods or talents. Perhaps if they can attempt to make peace with these things, and then learn to love and appreciate all that they are and all that they have, the need to destroy will dissipate. If envy and jealousy can be moderated, perhaps morality can surface. Are souls that damaged beyond repair? Do we keep hope alive for these dregs of humanity, that it is possible to change set patterns? I think we have to, because sometimes hope is all that is left. I have to aim at compassion. I have to dig deep into my own psyche and find a way to make my own peace with what I have experienced. It will take time and effort, this I know.