Morality, like art, means drawing a line someplace.

I have always loved that quote by Oscar Wilde. I don’t read it as morality in the religious sense, this quote has always helped to remind me that it is important to remember who you are and what you stand for in every aspect of your life. It started to mean something to me when I dated an ex who gave me the nick-name “the moral police”. He took issue with the fact that I would say something when I saw something happening that made me feel uncomfortable, even if it meant speaking out against one of our/his friends. I know he found this to be an annoyance and probably wished that I just wouldn’t rock the boat but from my point of view if someone is doing something wrong and I am witness to it I am also accomplice. My affection towards him usually quieted me that is until he was the one in the wrong, that’s when the line was drawn and the silence was broken. After the fact I felt guilty for not speaking up when I previously felt I should have, I did my best to correct that although I have always regretted compromising my values for him.

Today we watched a documentary about Pete Seeger called The Power of Music. It really spoke to me. He once said he felt as though his entire life was a contribution, just based on the parts that this documentary covers I would have to agree. He was stead fast in his beliefs and would not succumb to the bullying he encountered from the government or anyone else that took issue with his point of view. One part of his story I really connected with was when he was in a band called The Weavers which he eventually left because they put their need for money ahead of their beliefs. Specifically, they signed up to do a cigarette commercial which Pete did not agree with. They decided to go forward with the commercial because at the time their music had been blacklisted and they needed the money, this didn’t sit right with him so he left the band.

It made me think of what MLK Jr said, “There comes a time when silence is a betrayal”. You cannot just go along with something that you don’t believe in because you are afraid to rock the boat or afraid of losing someone from your life. Him leaving The Weavers made me think of my professional history up to this point and it reaffirmed for me the decisions I have made thus far. I have had four long term jobs and have left each after feeling that they were in contrast to my values. Bank of America took no interest in my ability to serve the customer, if I was not making sales I was considered sub-par. I was OK with this so long as I knew I was doing right by the people I helped. I would not recommend a credit card to an 18 year old for example. It wasn’t until I encountered a manager who had zero interest in the people we served and saw them all as dollar signs that I felt the need to leave. A few months later the economy began to slide and BOA with their faulty loans was definitely in part to blame.

At the MRI facility I watched day in and day out as my Doctor bullied and verbally abused the people who worked for him as well, in some cases, as the actual patients. I was able to get by for a while because I knew and still know that I was making a difference with the patients I served. I know on more than one occasion I had an impact on a person’s life and that out weighed my ill feelings towards the man I worked for. Not to mention I know he was able to see the good in me and I guess a naive piece of me hoped it would inspire him to try harder, in some cases I believe I succeeded in this. A few years in however I was no longer able to excuse his behavior. He verbally abused and fired two amazing women and forced into a position I never wanted. I was so relieved the day I was finally able to give notice. He spent the next month attempting to throw money at me in an effort to keep me there, it took him a long time to realize not everyone can be bought.

With the hospital I felt at home for a while. I worked under a good man who believed in what I believed, that there is value in taking care of people. He led the christian service group at our campus which meant i got to sit in on the meetings and take minutes as well as contribute ideas. The first Friday quickly became my favorite day of the month because of this. The problem for me arose with some of the other people I worked with. I witnessed unfair treatment and lying and even bullying and I felt as though they were trying to drag me in. I am proud that I stood up and said something. Ultimately I could not stay though I hear changes were made after my departure.

This last instance of me leaving was the hardest because in doing so I changed mine and Todd’s life with the decision to go back to school full time. I just know that this, social work I mean, is the only thing that will ever fit for me. I do not and never have cared about the money when working, all the matters is the impact on I able to make on people’s lives. In the documentary it said something to the affect of, to live with an activist you have to be a martyr. I don’t know how much I agree with this but it made me appreciate Todd’s sacrifice for me so much. I know that he believes in me and believes in what I am doing and supports my efforts. I am so thankful for what he is giving me in letting me follow my dream. I also appreciate that he understands that I am not the kind of person that will ever be driven by money so there is no promise that what I choose to do with my life will ever make us better off financially. Todd may not have as many opinions as I do or feel the need to get his hands dirty like I do but he supports my efforts and believes in what I stand for which makes him apart of it as well.

I have a meeting with the social worker at the Cherokee School tomorrow to start volunteering with them. I am so excited, I have felt so restless lately because I am ready to get back into things and have had no place to put my energy. My orientation with the Zebra Organization is coming up soon as well. I am just so ready to get started.

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You, me and a rocking chair.

Yesterday I sat on Todd’s lap while we rocked in a front porch chair watching a storm roll in at my mom’s house. The littlest thing’s can make me surge with so much emotion, I was so in love with him in that moment I could have cried.

Go and Do.

volunteer

 

I posted a while ago about the small steps I have been taking to live with greater purpose, the steps are slowly getting bigger so it is time for an update. I have to start by saying how embarrassed I am to admit that the decision to delete my FB was a little more difficult at first than I expected. I guess I became used to posting silly mundane things on FB. I almost found it hard to just be present in my life and not want to involve everyone else when I would do something funny like walk into a door. It was even more difficult when I would be incensed by something and want a forum to rant on. For example, when one of the “kids” in my Sociology class went into the class forum and posted a comment that said “I would rather be asexual than transsexual.. I’m not living no tabu lifestyle”, I almost lost my mind and wanted to post something about it. (The grammar alone was cringe worthy). Instead I responded to his comment and educated him on acceptance. As far as needing to rant, I did but with friends rather than online. Now I don’t even think about being on FB.

I am finishing up the semester and it looks like I am going to land 3 A’s and a C. I will take it. This summer I am retaking English II and Psychology to repair grades that were neglected when I was in school previously and unmotivated. I have decided to retake Biology, Spanish and English I in the fall. Those three grades were all passing but I know I can do better and when all is said and done I don’t just want to finish school, I want to have done well. I will apply to UCF in the spring now instead of the fall and then specifically to the Social Program in the Summer of 2014. I struggled a little with this decision but I feel like it is the right way to do things and it gives me more time to volunteer. That brings me to the real purpose of this post.

I have decided to volunteer with a few different organizations. I signed up with the Zebra Coalition, my orientation is May 3rd. I am not sure yet how they will utilize me but I am looking forward to the experience none the less. Suzie might even get in on it with me. I chose the Zebra Coalition because when I was working on my Bully Research I found an article that talked about the steps this organization has taken to eliminate LBQT bullying in area schools. I want to be a part of that. I also signed up with HRC which stands for Human Rights Campaign. They are the largest civil rights organization working towards equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. I am not sure how I will be helping with this group either but I should hear something within the next week. I was thinking about the Gay Rights movement when I was driving home from school today. Here I am wanting to volunteer my time to something worth while and it never occurred to me to focus my energy towards this issue. I believe in Gay Rights to the point of debating my own family about it, why wouldn’t I get involved? How hypocritical would I be to sit here and preach Gandhi’s words of “being the change you want to see” but not being involved in this civil rights movement going on in my own country. I know that this will ruffle the feathers of a few family members if they were to find out but I’ve decided that is their problem.

I have typically focused the volunteer work I do towards children because I find it enjoyable and rewarding so I wanted to continue with that as well. Dad put me in touch with the social worker of The Cherokee school downtown where he volunteers. I spoke with her this week and should be starting with them within the next month or so. I think I will be shadowing her in the work she does, shadowing some of the behavioral specialists and possibly helping out in the classroom as a teacher’s aide. I am really looking forward to this. All of this. I have been a little slow to start but now I am really ready to get involved.