On Hope For the Future
Before I say anything else, I’d like to share a video with you that was sent to me by a fan. Thank you, Marti – it was a gift.
I had a few teary-eyed moments after watching this when I couldn’t say anything at all. You might want to mark that down on your calendars for prosperity.
I was left speechless, because I was simultaneously consumed with a feeling of love and acceptance and ultimately, hope for the future. A lot of my rants have been directed at the Christian Right who feel that religion and politics are a right fine mix, whereas I believe them to be a toxic one, rife with landmines and not good either for religion or Democracy. No longer feeling the need to hide my Atheism for fear of the inevitable commentary of everything that must be wrong with me, I’ve come out of the ‘Atheist Closet’ because denying why I hold such things as American Democracy so dear to me wouldn’t be an honest conversation without explaining how I came to those conclusions. And I’m sick to death of people holding up their faith as valid reasons to hate other people. Young Miss Emanuella gave voice in such an eloquent way, why my Christian friends love me for who I am and manage to do so without judgement. She also explained why my issue isn’t with Jesus, but with His rabid fan club who so stunningly misrepresent everything about which He is portrayed in the Bible. (Capitalization included out of respect for Emanuella and my Christian friends.)
But what she said and did here gives me hope for the future. Much of my time is spent worrying about the generation who will care for me in the twilight of my life, and rightly so. I have witnessed the “I’m bored” generation who I’ve heard complain all too often about not having enough to entertain them. They’ve got 500 clear satellite channels of television, iPods, X-Box, Game-Boys, smart phones, laptop computers and a host of other electronic gadgets they badger their parents to provide because all the other kids have them. Of course, not much in those things are terribly good for them either. Children who tell me they’re bored get the following response from me:
“Go home. Mow the lawn. Wash the windows. Learn to cook. Do your homework. Visit the elderly in the local nursing home. Volunteer for your community. Take a trashbag, go to the local park and fill one bag of trash a week – shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes. Learn to make a difference, no matter how small that is. The world does not owe you a 24-hour cycle of entertainment and recreational facilities and life isn’t always “fun”. Through a little hard work, you’ll be given the gift of satisfaction for personal accomplishment and a job well done.”
For this is the generation who, while demanding all of this fun and entertainment, don’t understand what it feels like to stand in the shoes of another – something that can only be accomplished by turning off the television and going out into the real world. There were two lovely elderly spinster sisters who lived across the street from us when we were kids, Miss Beulah and Miss Lucille. I remember my brother John watching them struggle to use an old fashioned push mower (the kind without a motor) cut their grass on a particularly warm summer day. John couldn’t take it. He walked across the street, took the mower from Miss Lucille, and insisted he finish the job for her. My brother Mark proceeded to pull weeds from their garden as my sister Barb swept the walks and I carried cold drinks to the workers and helped Miss Beulah fold the clothes from the line. None of us would accept a penny as payment and when the ladies walked across the street to thank my parents for raising such thoughtful kids, I can’t forget the look of pride on my Dad’s face hearing that his children were doing something good. It’s important to note that at the time, John was 10, Mark was 9, Barb was 12 and I was 8. I think the next time we broke a window playing baseball in the side yard, we got a pass for that one.
My point here, is that while I sometimes lament the youth of today, reminders are ever present that there is hope for these young people. When I witness the type of compassion and clarity of thought from Miss Emanuella, I have hope. When I read the current thoughts of Here Women Talk intern, Kristina Cesternino, I have hope. When I watch 19 year-old Zach Wahls in Iowa stand in front of the State Legislature and explain to lawmakers how his two Lesbian mothers gave him a good, loving home and the type of upbringing that creates thoughtful and compassionate citizens, I have hope. When a 10 year-old Jersey girl went to the nursing home to serenade her great-grandmother for her 100th birthday, she realized many of the residents didn’t ever have a visitor. She rounded up a dozen or so of her friends and now they regularly entertain at Children’s hospitals and assisted living facilities – not for fame or fortune, but to bring joy into the otherwise lonely life of another. That gives me hope for the future.
On this Sunday morning as my Christian friends celebrate their faith, those of us who may not share your views on religion have a few things of our own to celebrate. Miss Emanuella, thanks for reminding me that I have some young people to be very thankful for. And thanks, Marti, for sharing this video.
Carol Baker is a political writer, satirist, and co-host with Vicki Childs of our Here Women Talk weekly internet talk radio show called BROADSIDED. You can hear their show every Thursday at 11 am Eastern/10 Central/8 Pacific.
Originally posted March 11, 2012