I’m part of the problem, and you probably are too.
There are an increasing amount of forums available for people to express their opinions. I stopped using Facebook at the end of 2016 because these opinions became a bit unbearable, but that’s a story for another day. I’ve been using Twitter, which is much more informative and less pretend-reality, which is nice. It’s not perfect, but it gets me my info fix for the day and I can move on… without having to see someone’s 15th post about their ambiguous state of mind, or photos from a romantic dinner with two smiling people who can’t actually stand each other. I don’t miss the “Having a terrible day!” posts, followed by “What’s wrong?”, “Are you ok?”
Sharing opinions is good. Sharing opinions is necessary. How will we ever evolve if we don’t have a diverse input of thoughts and information? We express our opinions. We mean it. We truly mean it. But then what? What happens after we express our opinions? I would argue that we can do better at what comes next… but will we?
Let’s start with some of my basic opinions and then we’ll move to why I’m part of the problem:
- All human beings have equal value.
- Basic healthcare is a human right.
- Red is the best color in the spectrum, hands down!
- Judge not lest ye be judged.
- “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” –Madeleine Albright
- No child should ever go hungry.
- King crab legs are the best meal on earth.
- Don’t judge a book by its cover.
- The government has no business making decisions regarding reproduction. Period. (no pun intended)
- Six Feet Under had the best series finale I’ve ever seen, or ever will see.
- No earthly human has the right to sentence someone to death.
- Police Body Cameras should be mandatory.
- Corporations should pay a lower tax rate. (Wait, aren’t you a democrat? Yep)
- Common Core works, whether you understand why or not.
- Gold is from Aliens (obviously)
- Brock Turner is not a person, he’s an epidemic. Parents: don’t raise Brock Turner.
- The “bailouts” in 2008 were necessary and pretty much saved our economy (Yes, still a democrat).
- Charter Schools and School Choice represent a gentrification of the public school system, creating an unequal and biased system for public education.
- If you’re sitting on a bus and there’s an elderly person standing in front of you, give them your seat. (this falls into the “Don’t be an a$$hole” category)
So, now that I’ve catalogued and declared these opinions as mine… What do I do? I FEEL like I do a lot. I’m a teacher. I’m a mentor. I’m an activist. I’m a parent. I’m a strategist. I help others. I make sacrifices. I listen. I often put others’ needs before my own. I volunteer. I treat others as I would like to be treated. I’m respectful. I compromise. I think before I speak. I think before I act. I consider the consequences of my actions. Wow… I’m pretty amazing! …Or am I?
This is me and Paralympic Gold Medalist Stefani Victor. I’m an advocate for people with disabilities. See! Here’s sort-of proof that I’m a good person!!!! And yes, that’s totally her gold medal she’s holding and it’s really heavy and shiny (and from Aliens obviously).
I’m still part of the problem. I write this blog not to punish myself or to implore anyone to live their lives in a particular way. I write it to remind myself, and perhaps someone else, that we are all part of the problem. Before we point the finger at someone else, figure out if we need to point it at ourselves first.
Just a few of ways that I’m part of the problem…
I go to a private hospital. I live in the city. I live in a part of the country where medical care is readily available. I would argue that I live in one of the best places in the world if you’re a sick person. If I get sick… if my family gets sick… we don’t take our health insurance card and go to the state or public hospital and support them and the community. Nope. We pull up to the private hospital, park 3 feet from the door in the expensive parking garage, and we walk into the giant atrium. The atrium greets us with an array of delicious food options, and a tranquil waterfall. Legit guys there is an actual, huge, real waterfall in the lobby. Most days there is also some sort of entertainment… perhaps a young man playing acoustic guitar or someone playing piano.
Why do I do this? Less crowded. Cleaner. Shorter wait. No people asking me for change. No riff raff. Right? No riff raff. But wait, aren’t all humans equal to all other humans? Shouldn’t we all be at the same hospital? You’d think so from my opinion list, but when the rubber meets the road, I pay more to avoid things that I don’t want to deal with when I’m sick. I’m part of the problem.
What makes a “bad” person, a “bad” person? Who decides which indiscretion is worse? Who decides what an indiscretion is? (insert flask reminder here)
I go the gym several times a week. My kids often come with me and use the indoor and outdoor pools. The gym is also a Tennis center, but we don’t really take advantage of it. How is this part of the problem?
The gym I go to is expensive. It’s right outside the city in a fancy-pants suburb. There are at least 5 gyms within 10 minutes of my house. I live in a very populated area. I pay about double for MY gym even though I don’t play tennis… which is basically what this gym is all about.
Why do I do this? Less crowded. Cleaner. Shorter wait. No people asking me for change. No riff raff. Seeing a trend here? I can tell myself it’s because I have two jobs and very little time, and this is more convenient… or I like the pool, or the family that owns it. All of those things are actually quite true… but at the end of the day… I pay more to avoid things I don’t want to deal with because I’m part of the problem.
See, at least I can watch Tennis while I run. Note the lack of people around.
IRONY ALERT: If I’m being honest, the people at the gym are super nice, and at the beginning of a class, or when I first step on a treadmill, they smile and make small talk. We laugh and share stories about past classes or complain about how out of shape we are. Then, inevitably… and because I absolutely hate sweating, I take off my long sleeved gym shirt and am wearing a fitness tank top… exposing a very pretty, but very gigantic half sleeve tattoo. At this point, I become the riff raff. The longer I go to this gym, the more they get used to me… if you will. But it’s always fun to see their look of confusion. Wait, isn’t this gym expensive enough to weed out the half-sleeves? Nope. I thought this half-sleeve was one of us… I’ve been duped! I can only assume that I’m not “that nice lady from the gym”, but rather “That lady with the half sleeve” or “She must be from Worcester”…But I digress.
As I mentioned, I live in the city. I love my city. We have amazing restaurants and so much to do in the way of entertainment. We also have a rich history, beautiful architecture and very cool people that I feel I belong with. It’s one of my favorite places on earth. I have two daughters. One is 14 and one is 9. My 14 year old goes to school in an affluent suburb outside of the city where her father lives. My 9 year old goes to another suburban public school in a different town, under the city’s school choice program.
Wait, didn’t I just say that school choice is basically the anti-christ of the public school system? Yes, yes I did, and I honestly believe that. I can tell myself that the suburb she goes to is NOT affluent (it’s most definitely not… working class, diverse, all that), and that she’s a sensitive kid who struggles with being too hard on herself who would not thrive in a school with gang violence. These are true statements. That said, what makes HER so special that she should get a pass and contribute to the demise of public schools? I do, I suppose. Anyone can apply for school choice, but does everyone know they can? Does everyone know how? …This makes me a hypocrite and an opportunist, does it not? I’m part of the problem.
What to do now that we know we are part of the problem? Try to be better people? We like to say that we do “the best we can”. Do we? Does anyone really do the BEST they can?