Lately I’ve been trying to figure out a way I can help the big picture. The last few months have been a roller coaster ride for us, and watching world politics right now has put a fire in my belly to do… more. To speak up. To say “hey, I’m going through this”, or “they’re going through this”, or “I’m mad about that”, or “we can do better than we’re doing.” It is terrifying because while I’ve always been happy to share my opinions with those around me, it’s a bit riskier sharing them with others.
My sister helped me come to a great conclusion a few months ago – you can’t change everything. It’s great to have causes and things you believe in, but if you spread yourself too thin you’ll be paralyzed with inaction. And you can’t shy away from a cause that affects you because it’s not worthy enough. Surely, there are others out there like you who want change. And if none of you ask for it, you’ll never get it.
So I’m trying, in my own small way, to do little things to spread awareness. But I can’t help but feel as though it makes me look ungrateful. Like I don’t appreciate the fact that it could be worse. Or that people are trying to help in whatever ways they can. Because I appreciate all of that. I do.
But just because people have it worse doesn’t mean that you’re not allow to scream “FUCK THIS IS DIFFICULT!” Just because you appreciate the kindness of others doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to look at your situation critically and ask “Why do they even have to go above and beyond? What’s missing here?” Just because you have things under control doesn’t mean that you aren’t allowed to ask for help. It’s okay to do all of those things. I promise.
And you need to do all of those things. We need to stand up for ourselves so that we can help others. I pulled my kid out of the public school system. I can afford to do that. Many others can’t. So no, I’m not going to leave quietly and bow my head in thanks so that others can get left behind. I’m not going to burn the place down either! But I have every right, no, responsibility, to say “HEY, this is happening. I’m good but what about the next guy?”
Because chances are, they won’t be good. They may not have the time and money to do this. Hell, I wouldn’t have understood the importance of all of this if I hadn’t a) lived it and b) read the crap out of it. And as more of us who can afford to do so, who have the freedom to, walk away from systems that don’t work for us personally, we leave that system that worked for us so poorly in absolute shambles for others that don’t have the same luxury to just walk away.
So please, know that yes I’m grateful. Know that I understand I have it better than most. That I’m surrounded by caring, amazing people who help me out in so many ways – even if it’s just to say “DUDE THAT SUCKS.” But not everyone is as lucky as I am. So it’s my duty to speak out for them. It doesn’t make me ungrateful or unappreciative. And I know that change doesn’t happen in a day. I’m not a policy maker. I personally can’t change anything. But I can offer support to others. And I can tell my story over and over in the hopes that next time a policy maker is voting, they think of my kid and the other kids like him. That doesn’t make me ungrateful, that makes me responsible.
We don’t all have the time or wherewithal to advocate. Most of us are just trying to survive! And that’s okay. But at the same time, picking one battle doesn’t mean you’re unsympathetic to others. And just because you know that it’s not going to change for yourself, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to change it for others. Because if I can keep one kid happy to continue learning, if I can keep one parent sane because they know they aren’t alone, then I know I did something. It doesn’t have to be big. Something is enough.
Asking for change doesn’t mean you are ungrateful, it means you have the imagination to see progress and improvement. So no matter what your battle is, fight it. Because if you don’t, no one else will.