As I look to an uncertain future with two tiny Valkyries still learning how to fly, it makes the muscle of my heart turn to cold stone to think of the dangers that await them. When they were born I made the same oath to each of them. To lead, and to be lead. To teach, and to learn. To carry, and to be carried. To love, and be loved. To fight for, and fight with.
Now I find myself as an example, a role model, a series of walking life lessons to two budding women who look to me for guidance in these tumultuous times. Who ask hard questions about things that I shouldn’t participate in. Who watch my every move as I try to look like I know what I am doing when I navigate this crazy, mixed-up world. Trying for all the life of me to be capable, compassionate, and composed, when sometimes, to be frank, I’m fucking scared to let them outside my door. I’m fucking angry the institutions at large have us so scared, so divided, so enslaved. I’m fucking hurt that the people that SHOULD understand, don’t.
How do I carry on with these four eyes watching me? Their four ears listening. Their two mouths questioning. Their two hearts beating eager to seek joy in a boundless sea of imagination and wonder. Their two brains rapidly accelerating into seeing just how full of shit the whole mess is. How do I keep my troubles from becoming theirs? Is cynicism hereditary? Will my struggle tarnish their vision of me?
As a man with so many surface labels it seems I don’t have a stake in the trials and tribulations of those who are struggling. I know that I don’t have a dog in many of these fights, but I care. At a quick glance, on the surface, I am a white, middle class, American, male. I have no stake in Black Lives Matter or the LGBT struggles. Even the most recent #metoo campaign, which, in the wake of the Hollywood abuse victims coming forward, encourages women who are victims of abuse and harassment to speak up in hopes of encouraging others who haven’t come forward to do so. Of course these are being co-opted by other groups trying to push their agendas or to turn the spotlight to them, and thus attempting to throw my hat in the ring is counterproductive.
Discounting my own struggles, traumas and experiences that would state otherwise, the populations of these various gathering bodies refuse to see me as anything but. Ironically the only group that would take me as I am, without requiring a punch on my “Victim” card, is the skinheads and the Alt-Right. And only then, because of my surface credentials.
So then I am on my own, my little warrior tribe is on its own. So be it.
Our trumpets will sound the songs of science and logic. The tune we dance to will be one of creativity and exploration. The gospel we preach will be one of substance, merit, and measure. Not labels, income bracket, or skin color. When one of us gets hurt, we will cry together. When one of us triumphs, we will all celebrate. I don’t mean watering down and diminishing our lives as individuals, I mean as a unit, a pack, a team, a tribe. Our tragedies will shape us, not define us. Our victories will enrich us, not entitle us.
Beyond that I set the example of being the person I want my children to grow into. I do right by those around me and I work every day to make the five foot area around me a better place, in the hopes that, like a honeycomb, others will do the same and one day, these struggles will be seen as the witch burnings they are. A testament of ignorance and fear in a dark age before the enlightenment. Things my girls will laugh about when they sing my grand children to sleep, should they choose to have children.
Because at the end of the day, the only thing I can really give my children, is choice and help them decide what to do with it. The rest is all on me, the fear, the apprehension, the anger, I’ll keep that inside. There is enough of it outside they will have to deal with. Let them remember me well and think of me in times of trouble. And may they choose wisely and go on to do great and wondrous things. Devil knows the world needs it.