Have I ever told you what a remarkable person you are? I should have said it long before now. You should know how unique and outstanding you truly are. I want you to set aside everything that brings you doubt, and listen to what I have to say. I love you and though you may not see it, you have played a major role in the person I am today. All the parts of me you’re so proud of and endlessly support, you don’t think you had much of a hand in, because we’re so different. But I’m here to tell you that is was YOUR example that paved the way for the adult I turned out to be.
I see you giving me that skeptical look. Just keep reading…
First – and this is for all readers – my tribute of gratitude was inspired by This Amazing Post Right Here – a touching article about tolerance and the fight for equality for ALL humankind. Please take a moment to read it, like it, share it, draw your own inspiration from it, whatever it takes to keep it moving and growing.
Now, you’re wondering how I got from there to here? I’ll explain.
Author Jean M. Cogdell shared a memory with us in her post about the moment her remarkable mother planted the seeds of tolerance within her and I was immediately touched, drawn in by my own upbringing. So, I began to leave a comment and that comment, instead, turned into this post–because I realized that the person I should be saying all of those things to, was the very woman responsible for them: My mom.
Let me tell you about my mom. She’s a force to be reckoned with, wrapped in a genuine hug. A second generation American born to Irish immigrants. She grew up in Chicago during the Civil Rights Movement and Race Riots that tore that city, and too many others, apart. She was verbally and physically attacked for having friends from the ‘wrong’ side of the segregation lines and for refusing to leave their sides. She didn’t care what anyone said, she knew that everything happening around her was WRONG!
There has never been a time my mother has backed down when she’s seen someone being mistreated, and she can’t be cowed into thinking or believing anything less than what she knows in her heart and soul to be right. She has literally taken a fist to her face to protect others – not just once or twice – not just in Chicago – this has been a lifelong stance for her. She will not stand by and watch someone else being abused when she knows she can do something to try to stop it. That is the core of my mother. Her biggest strength is her integrity, her unyielding sense of right and wrong, and the enormous heart she offers to everyone, without prejudice.
My mom never had to use her words (though, let me tell ya, she did!) to teach me about tolerance, to instill her moral compass within me – she led by example. She showed me that every last person on this earth deserves to be treated with respect, kindness, compassion and dignity. That our opinion should be based solely on an individual’s actions, nothing else. Not race, background, beliefs, nothing.
Mom, I know you feel like you’re not doing anything special, nothing someone else wouldn’t do – but you really are, and you always have. It takes courage to stand up for others–for strangers–to never stop being who you are or fighting for what you know is right. You’re the bravest, most true-to-self and strongest person I know. I’m proud to be your daughter. I admire and look up to you, and I thank you for laying down the examples you did for me, that I was able to pass them on to my children. I know they will pass these examples on to their own kids (way, waaaay in the future), and with each new generation, your influence will help tolerance and compassion for the HUMAN race gain more ground – something this world still desperately needs to see happen.
Thank you, Mom.
♥ Love, your ever-grateful daughter.
Readers, if you comment, I greatly appreciate it! But even if you don’t, I still hope you find some inspiration here or in Jean Cogdell’s post. We’re not helpless or hopeless, and every new generation reveals a larger capacity for tolerance and compassion. Like our parents before us, we have to empower the up and coming, to keep change in progress rather than the massive, violent regression we witnessed this past week. With enough nurturing, we might one day see hate crimes and bigotry become subjects of history, rather than headlines in the news.