You post something controversial on your wall and frantically wait idly by your phone to see who is going to support your message or who is going to spit fire at you. I know the feeling all too well. I am often asked how I keep my confidence and heart when faced with negativity on my social media accounts or even in person. I would be lying if I said it didn't bother me in the least, the truth is, I stew over it, I dream about it, I mull it over with my husband, I discuss it with friends, and I might even ask my kids their opinion. The outcome is probably not what you would expect; controversy in my life brings me to a newer place, each interaction I have, every argument, disagreement, and agreement build me up.
"Unfriend," a button that has been hit on my accounts too many times for me to count over the last 4 years. The sting that follows is sort of inspiring if you will. I know that often times people who unfriend me do so because they're sick of seeing my beautiful happy kids, they're sick of my bodily autonomy posts, maybe even sick of the happiness emanates from us, or its too difficult for them to admit that at one point they themselves were wronged, or that they were hurt by someone they love. Self exploration is a difficult journey, I know because I am currently taking that path, but its an important one that I believe everyone should take. Happiness isn't for everyone I suppose and neither is being awakened. Actually, I remember being pregnant with Harper and reading a few things in some mommy groups (that I now know to be true) and I laughed and thought everyone was crazy. To be blissfully unaware is to feel protected, to feel the weight of a decision lifted off of your shoulders, you feel free from blame because you are relying on the word of others to make important decisions for you. Thats just not me.
In other cultures, when a mother delivers her baby, she and the baby go live in a village with elders and other women who specifically care for the mother so she can bond with her baby. They help her breastfeed, they nourish her, they teach her the ways of motherhood and they ensure a safe happy environment for both mother and baby. The pair then reunite with the father weeks or months later. Here in America people often don't live near family anymore. They've moved for careers, service, and other reasons. Women have lost their physical village, many times families have never even met their neighbors! Having a baby is emotionally isolating in itself, adding the physical isolation makes things so much more difficult. Cue internet; an electronic village if you will. Everyone's all "social media ruins everything" and I'm all "shit I have access to so many different ways of thinking and information!". I remember when I was pregnant with Harper I attended a breastfeeding support group at an OB's office. I later found out that there was a group on Facebook linked to the physical support group. From there I got to hear other peoples experiences, problems, things they wish they hadn't done, things they wanted to do with their kids, hopes for them, how too's, accidents, their relationship problems..... everything going on in a mothers life was displayed in front of me by a myriad of women. I believe sharing your experiences is extremely important. Other people might be going through the same thing, just to know you aren't alone is so valuable.
Culture. The definition of culture, by The Cambridge English Dictionary, "the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time. The internet has changed and affected many culture's customs partly due to the accessibility of information. We are no longer bound to how we were raised, or what is acceptable in our culture. The internet has given many people the freedom to find what works for them, to have the best and latest information and studies at their fingertips to aid in their decision making.
Here's an interesting piece on the internet and culture. The beginning is particularly fascinating to me how even the advancements of print was initially seen as threatening to culture and particularly religion.
Sometimes people don't want you to learn, they don't want you to advance. They don't want you to be a freethinker, an explorer, or a trail-blazer. People who pave their own way are first seen as a threat, a person who needs to be quieted and shunned. They're seen as crazy or better yet a danger to society. But then a shift. More and more people are beginning to understand, they're beginning to see the truth behind what you've been trying to show them. They may have cut themselves out of your life but now they come back. Remind people it is okay to question, it is okay to go against, the grain, change is a good thing. Continue to share information and inspire others to be their best selves, use your voice for good; to protect others, and to be heard for those who cannot be. Most importantly listen. Listening to others who feel differently from you will only help strengthen your beliefs and reinforce why you are doing that you do. You will see the ignorance shine through in their words, you will better understand what you are up against and you will be better equipped.
I waited up all night after I shared my son's picture at the Blood Stained Men protest. The sign wasn't even controversial. But I knew what was to come. For the small handful of negative comments and ignorant explanations defending what they did to their own sons, there were over a hundred positive comments. There were private messages asking me for more information. There were emails of inspiring regret mothers saving their second or third born sons. There were even texts simply saying "thank you for standing up to circumcision". I didn't want this blog post to be about that, and honestly its not. I just wanted you to know that the stress and heartache your activism may cause you really does pay off. People do listen, they care, they truly love their children and want whats best for them, they just have to get over the emotional hurdles in front of them preventing them from moving forward. And while they're doing that you simply wait for them to come around and support them when they finally do.
So to you, my revolutionary friends, don't be discouraged. Take the time you need to process your own feelings, step back if you must, come forward when energized, and continue your beautiful work as a visionary. The future is peaceful, it is bright, and it will be safe as long as we do the hard work now.
Always with love,