I never understood fear until I became a parent. Fear is not something I have a lot of experience with. My family will tell you that I have always been pretty fearless. When I took off for England in my Junior Year of college, I had never been out of the country, and suddenly I was in Europe with only a rail pass and a backpack. After college, I decided to go cross-county rock-climbing and my father described the trip as "demented," telling people I was literally going to be "jumping off cliffs."
So fear is not something I have ever allowed to permeate my life.
Now, imagine suddenly waking up almost every day and realizing I am afraid. Not just a little afraid, but BIG, major, life-altering fear.
It isn't fun, and it is all about being a parent. Some days I look at my daughter and a fear so strong grips me that I swear I feel that proverbial icy hand gripping my heart. I hear about "killer storms," crime rates, missing children and developing global insecurity. Terrorism, climate disruption, economic turmoil, food shortages and drought all give me severe anxiety.
I wonder at the immensity of human innovations; to have gone from creating fire to creating weapons of mass destruction in just a few thousand years is a pretty staggering accomplishment. We created war, poverty, bigotry, hate and indifference. Wow.
We also created art, poetry, music, dance and stand-up comedy, among our other notable achievements. But lately, I seem to be more focused on the negative. I wake up and think, well, today if I die, or find out I have cancer, who will protect my daughter? I think about her leaving for college and I swear I've tried to decide if it is feasible to hire a bodyguard to go with her. I try to remember going to Europe on my own and tell myself I survived, but that is not much comfort.
And fear leads to anger. Because I know a better, safer, stronger, more secure world is possible. We do not have to accept this world as it is, we can create the world we want in our own image. Nothing is beyond our ability, I truly believe that. We simply need to find our resolve to do it.
Complacency is not a virtue. I wrote this to a friend this morning. Life is not for the timid, and I do not believe the meek will inherit the Earth. Life is for the living. And those of us who are fighting to protect it, fighting to protect our planet and all our children, know this. Complacency is not a virtue. And if I seem angry sometimes, if I push you to think, to question, to not accept the unacceptable, know that I do so out of a desire to protect and preserve what is truly sacred.
Fear breeds anger. And I promise you, there is no greater fury than a mother terrified that her child is in danger. So, if my resolve sometimes surprises you, stop and think about why that is.
Cuts to education. Cuts to environmental regulation. Cuts to reproductive health care. Cuts to police, firefighters and EMTs. Cuts to social programs. Cuts to cuts to gut social safety programs. Only one thing protected and increased, cuts to taxes for the already wealthy and corporations.
It is small government for the working poor and middle class, and less taxes for the already wealthy and corporations. Not a recipe for a stable, secure world.
So yes, I am a little angry. Because complacency is not a virtue. And our children are being hurt by these cuts. And I may only be here for another 40 years or so, but I might also only be here for another 40 days. And what happens to my daughter and her children in a world where cuts have gutted their future?
Don't accept the unacceptable. Complacency is not a virtue. Insist we create a world that nurtures our children. Get a little angry -- you have every reason to be. This is your world that is being pillaged, and ignoring it isn't going to be a very effective strategy for very long.
Hell may have no fury like a woman scorned, but I promise you, that is nothing compared to a parent's protectiveness. It is up to us to stand up and speak out. It is up to us to protect our planet and tell the politicians this is our world, they are just living in it.
So stop sitting home complaining about the world and start changing it.