I think I may be ready to fight again. As I wash dishes, I listen to my eleven year old daughter telling me her plans for changing the world. She wants to be an organic farmer raising her animals humanely so that even her vegan mother will feel comfortable drinking the milk. She wants to be an environmentalist, a feminist, an artist. She raises funds in our family to give to people in need and can tell us how much it costs to immunize 50 children against polio. As I run hot water over the plates she tells me about how far our small amount of money can go if we share it with people with greater needs than our own. She wants to give to PBS, to UNICEF, to wildlife protection and she plans to give all of her birthday money away. So much like me when I was a child, she is full of fight and idealism. She can be moralistic and judgmental but she is also relentlessly compassionate. She is champion of the underdog everywhere. Even when she was a tiny thing, her face would grow fierce when she heard about an injustice. She hangs on my words and devours the books I give her about social justice, environmentalism, and peace.
I don't want to be the one who tells her the world can't be changed. I don't want her to see me broken.
So I'm going to keep fighting. I'm going to give each speech and walk into each class like a prize fighter. Justice. Equality. Peace. Compassion. I will teach these things. I will sing about them, shout about them. I will whisper them into my students' ears and write them on my children's hearts. I will not let my daughter see me break.
I am small. I am female. I am poor. I am neurotic too with more phobias than I can list in a blog, but it doesn't matter because I am going to uphold my own promise to Integrity. I will speak the truth. I will not apologize for my knowledge. I did not go to college to get rich. I got my doctorate so that I could learn to tell the stories of those who dared and thereby infect others with courage. I cannot promise that I will not feel frustrated. Money is tight, opportunities are scarce, and acknowledgment is rare, but I will not let these be my excuses for a failure to do what I am called to do. I educated myself so that I could serve the world not myself.
I will never be famous. No one will remember my name when I am gone. I will never be rich and I may never escape my debt but I am not here to be rich or famous. I educated myself so that I could be useful. And dammit, I will be useful. I will make each day an act of faith and use all that I am to magnify the Light I find in every heart I encounter. I will sing, and laugh, and dance, and write with everything I have. As long as there is Good in the world, let me serve it. It is true. I've been sad and tired. I've felt bitter, misused, and discouraged, but it is time to lift my head. Yes, I think I'm ready to go out fighting again. Look at me square my shoulders. Hear me raise my voice. My daughter is watching me. I cannot fail.