Ok I'll confess. I'm procrastinating. Sort of. If you're a writer, you'll likely understand. See, there's an article that's due and has been percolating in my mind for several weeks now that needs to be written and it's challenging. Not just the writing of it, or the starting of it, but the article itself. It's about challenging ourselves to be responsible instead of looking the other way; about living within the better part of who we are instead of just letting things slide which are wrong, and no longer continuing to do nothing, allowing situations to degrade. To no longer live less than who we are and forget our purpose as people. To cease the abdication of our responsibility by either sitting idly by or perhaps worse, by taking the *easy* route of just stepping away to avoid it altogether. As civil adults in a civil organization, which also models behavior for children, to no longer allow others to be hurt (including ourselves) by a culture of bullying. See what I mean? This is not an easy subject, but is one that's been crying out to be addressed for some time. My sense of urgency about this has been fermenting by observing more and more people hurt by others as well as by those who do not say "no"…."this is wrong". I KNOW this is a hard thing to do in the face of people who have been bullied for a long time into complacency or even worse, into leaving. We need to regain our inner sense of our own power of what we will and will not accept both for ourselves as well as other adults and children. For too long there have been too many excuses to let things slide. Yet it is so destructive to our very spirit. Other eyes are watching not only those being hurtful but also those who are seeing/learning that perhaps this is the way adults should treat one another…and young people. God is watching, too. And those of us who sit idly by suffer doubly: by wincing at what we see and hear and in also knowing we haven't said or done something about it for ourselves or others.
So I needed some inspiration and turned to, you guessed it, YouTube to find a video for a song I really like. It's more like the anthem which is bolstering me to find the words to write the article which is due. The song is called "What Have You Done Today to Make You Feel Proud?" by Heather Small. And I got way more than just inspiration as I was doubly blessed by not only hearing the song again but additionally by the particular video I found which goes with it. This is a video which reminded me so much of my younger sister (by 4 years) and only sibling, Marcia who died tragically many years ago. At only 20 she was already a very accomplished and determined young woman. Marcia was majoring in Special Education in college and was an incredible horsewoman. She and her Morgan horse, Proctor's Royal Duke, attained considerable fame together throughout New England. There is still an annual state trophy sponsored in her name for the rider who has achieved the highest points in a year. A grand champion trophy.
As I watched the video, tears of jubilant remembrance came to my eyes. Although the young woman in the video is riding a pony and is a "jumper", there are so many similarities. The pony she started with was almost impossible, yet with much time and practice, you'll see there's been an extraordinary transformation. Oh I saw the flaws, I heard my inner mind's voice saying what Marcia would be saying, "Feet IN…sit UP…hands STILL" etc. Riding is exhilarating, but it is demanding and hard work. But the results are, well, they are more than marvelous. My sister, like the girl in the video, also rode "English" (instead of with a Western saddle, dress and style) but "Saddle Seat" instead of all the jumping you'll see in the video. Even at her young age she had mastered the amazing art of Dressage…which is like ballet with your horse performing amazing feats while the rider is very still in the saddle, seeming to give no visible commands at all. Leaping, cantering, trotting, flying "lead" changes (which hoof the horse *leads* with while running), sudden stops and twirls and movements with ballet names such as "Arabesque". Breathtaking to watch.
Although in many ways we were very different, in some very important things, we had strong similarities. She stood up for the "underdog" and was dedicating her life to something I have been doing all of mine: empowering others to find their best selves and living in the joy of found purpose, healing wounds, mediating conflict with gentleness and resolution, and finding peace and dignity in how they treat themselves and others. The title of this post comes from some remarkable words I read online written by the major of Newark, NJ. The mayor's name was not listed, and as I don't even know when this person was mayor, unfortunately I cannot give proper credit. They deserve to be put in their entire context. I was stronger and more determined from reading them, and I hope you will feel the same way, too.
"We are living in a poverty of compassion, action and moral imagination. Too many people care too little about change and being a catalyst for change. We can't let our inability to do everything undermine our determination to do something. Even the smallest act will undermine the largest obstacle. Every moment offers us a choice – accept conditions as they are or take responsibility for changing them." These words were followed by two powerful quotes: "All humanity is one individual family. Each of us is responsible for the misdeeds of the others" – M. Ghandi And finally, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere" – Martin Luther King, Jr. Most importantly, the words of Matthew 7:12 "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets."
So, my friends, what have you done today to make you feel proud? I so hope you enjoy the video and the song.