My Voice

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is Thanksgiving. I contemplate the things I am grateful for. There are material things, there are memories, there are the people I love and the places I have been. But in today’s political climate, I look to something else. In our failing and fragile democracy, I search for truth and justice. I return to our constitution that deems the value and importance of each and every person. We can no longer wait for our representatives to fix what is broken. It is in our hands to create the society in which we desire to live. Because of this responsibility, I am grateful that my parents gave me a voice.

This is the first time in my life that I feel uncertain about the future of America. Presidents have come and gone, I may have disagreed with them on issues, but I felt they had the best interest of the country in mind. Now we have a president who is clearly an asset to Russia. Our country is in a very precarious position. The US is declining right before our eyes. Plus, climate change is an existential crisis and this president is doing everything to exacerbate the situation. There has never been a more important time to use our voices.

My parents, who I am eternally grateful to, allowed me to be myself. They never tried to live through me. They gave me space, yet security. We were a family of discussion and debate. No topic was off the table. I remember long discussions with my mother when I questioned how a loving God could render my sister developmentally disabled. There was no good answer and she gave no pat answers. In fact, she, too had the same question. At the dinner table, my dad would discuss many topics. Often, the debate would become somewhat heated. He never told me I was wrong, and he never tried to end the conversation in a disciplinary way. By allowing me the freedom to speak at will, I developed my own thoughts and values. I was not spoon fed common dogma, but rather became confident in my ability to decide for myself how I felt on important issues. There were many issues we disagreed on, and that was acceptable at my house. I went on to minor in Philosophy, a minor many see as a waste, yet its impact on me was profound. Thinking and contemplating who we are is quite different than from living a copycat existence to those who surround us.

I know that many children are told what to think and what to say, and the reasoning is: Because I said so. I am so grateful I never heard those words. From my parents, I was given my own canvas to paint, and my own pen to write. I became comfortable with the sound of my own words. There is not a better gift that we give our children than freedom of speech. It is the foundation of our democracy. If our dinner tables allow freedom of expression then we teach the values of our democratic principles at home. We then expect them in our schools and in our communities. What we live will then mirror the ideals we hold dear. Freedom of speech is not meant for the few, but for the many. Without it, we are everything we have fought against my entire life and before.

So today, I am thankful for my progressive parents. Their ideals and values were not just spoken, but acted upon. I watched how they meandered through the ups and downs of life, and how their words were not a repeat of a TV personality, a pastor, or a friend, but words that derived from living a thoughtful life of questioning and searching for their answers. In this time of upheaval, I am not swayed by Fox News or MSNBC. My values do not change at the whim of a President. My values have been built on watching, listening, reading, and contemplation over many years. There is a right and a wrong. 2+2 will never equal five. I have painstakingly written my own words, because I have always had the freedom to do so. I have so much to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day. In this blink of time in our shared history, I am blessed that early in my life my words were heard and acknowledged. I felt worthy and respected, and is that not what our country’s ideals are really all about?

Of the people, by the people, for the people.

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If life steers you into a dead end road, and you are trying to find your way, skip the GPS, take the road with no traffic. Founder studiO, early morning poet.

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Patty Brown

Patty Brown

If life steers you into a dead end road, and you are trying to find your way, skip the GPS, take the road with no traffic. Founder studiO, early morning poet.