He taught my brother and I that people matter, ALL people. He spoke and wrote his mind, even when it meant hate mail and, sometimes, death threats. He taught us the importance of listening to all sides of an argument.
Which is probably why even the people who hated what he stood for said they respected him. Grudgingly. And why there were 500 people at his memorial.
It's also why, starting as a teen and continuing now, I take politics to heart. I've seen, up close and personal, the effects public policies have on individuals, both good and bad. Because of budget cuts for mental health support in the 80's, my uncle committed suicide. On the flip side, because of recent policies governing special education, both of my kids are in amazing schools with incredible teachers.
I've marched in D.C., sat in phone banks, canvassed neighborhoods. And I've also written emails to representatives and texted donations using my cell phone (things that would have made Dad curl up in a ball, lol!).
I believe debate and discourse are important. I also believe we're seeing the slow death of both. Now it's about who can yell the loudest and say the most outrageous things.
I'm scared for the future. Things are happening that I thought we wouldn't see in the 21st century. I envision nightmare scenarios coming to pass, and I wonder what the future holds for my kids, and for all our kids.
I have 2 kids who need their mom. I cannot march on D.C anymore, or canvass neighborhoods, or do all those things I did when I was younger, more energetic, and childless. I still care deeply, and will do what I can, but I think it's time to pass the reigns to the younger folks.
I remember seeing an interview with Bob and Suzanne Wright, who co-founded Autism speaks after their grandson was diagnosed. He is the former head of NBC, so they have a pretty big platform. They talked about the fact that it's important for grandparents to be activists for their grandkids, because parents are insanely busy taking care of those kids. I think about this a lot: When I was younger I wanted desperately to make a difference and to be useful in the world. The best way for me to do that now is to take care of my kids. I also believe that teaching theater makes a difference. Scratch that, I KNOW it does. And I'm hoping to continue that, as well. But my main focus, of course, is my kids.
And there's one more thing. It's pretty big: I am SO TIRED of all the Taking Sides! Of the hyperbole from both sides, too, but especially all the division. At the end of the day, most of us want the same thing. It's too bad there are so many people making boatloads of money convincing us otherwise. And doing a damn good job of it, too.
I often wonder if we're at the point of no return. If we'll ever be able to find common ground again. But, perhaps, it's time for me to be a little selfish (again), close ranks, and focus on my family. Let those whippersnappers pick up the flag and run with it.
I'm not nearly as important to the world as I sometimes seem to think I am, lol!
Besides, I need a nap.