Her Name is Janet

...Or Smartass, if you were to ever ask my mom. If only she'd had the foresight.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

I'm sorry to all the people who read this who don't drink, because I was completely buzzed while writing. But it's new year's eve, after all.

David, a person for whom I have much respect (and feel fortunate to call a friend), recently asked, quite forcefully, "what do you want for your life, Janet?"

In a nebulous manner, I've been thinking about it for the past two years. Having the question posed so directly though, made me consciously reflect on it.

Most of my adult life I've felt as though I'm a rock in a riverbed, life flowing over me like water. Getting whatever happens to flow by. A few exceptions exist, times when I made concrete decisions and sought to execute them. Mostly though, like a rock in a riverbed.

But David asked me this question. And then I read about the Pakistani man who slit the throats of his daughters last week, three of them, in order to preserve family "honor." The article brought to the surface all the expected angry, sad, and helpless emotions that each of us feel when confronted with such obvious cruelty. We are better than this, as human beings. The trouble is, the magnitude of these kinds of problems is so daunting. And I am so small...just one tiny individual...affecting change seems completely out of reach.

The truth is, I am not helpless to act. I simply choose not to.

I choose it in small ways...not writing an objection letter, or donating spare change, or disagreeing during a political conversation, in order to maintain harmony. I choose it because not acting is effortless, taking action isn't.

But David asked me this question. And upon reflection, it turns out that what I wanted as a child, when my life was full of potential and possibility, is still what I want now. To make a difference. To affect change. The impulse may have been dormant, but hasn't disappeared. Remember my question from "that" post, about being here? About just what's the point of it all? The answer is, being here is more than just about me. More than preserving my own comfort and security. I have enough education, compassion and initiative to work for change. Individually I don't have strength, it's true. But there is strength in numbers. Margaret Mead once said to "never doubt that a small group of concerned citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

Don't get me wrong, I have no intention of making a rash decision or committing to a new ideology in a way that isn't sustainable. But this isn't entirely new; I've been volunteering and blathering away on my soapbox about social injustice since I was 13. I've decided what I want my life to look like, and I will act on it. Clarification is still in order, but the decision's been made.


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