So What Did We Do?
“So what did we do?”
My daughter may be young, but I can already hear those words ringing in my ear, being said by her future self in a time that is already arriving even more quickly than I could’ve ever imagined.
At 4-years-old, she is already my accountability partner. She doesn’t let things fly. She holds me to higher standards than I hold myself. She lets me know if she notices me slipping up or not abiding by any of the limits set forth in our set of moral codes. As much as I am attempting to guide her, she is also guiding me.
I envision her, years from now, reading about our current time period in her history books. She will read about the pandemic we are all blindly feeling our way through. She will learn about the loud and clear call to end systemic racism. And when she learns about these things, she will most certainly come to me and ask, “So what did you do?”
Her inquiry will not be a superficial one, so she will not accept a superficial answer. She won’t just be pondering what we with our days at home or how many hours we spent watching Netflix. She will want to know what we actually did. She will want to know what stance we took on these issues and what hands-on actions we were a part of. She won’t want the simple answer. No, no. She’ll be interested in holding me accountable for what we did to change the world for the better during this time. She will be inquiring to find out whether my character and integrity stood the test and whether the formation of hers played a role in the outcomes.
And this is what I’ll tell her:
We took a turn to listen. And when I say listen, I don’t mean we were just listening in order to be able to formulate a response. We listened to try to understand. We wanted to actually grasp the ways in which change was needed and be able to recognize the active roles that we could play in being proponents of change.
We learned. We read books, both of us. I read books on white supremacy and the deeply embedded issue of racism. She read books about valuing the differences in others and also taking the opportunity to recognize similarities. I listened to podcasts. We educated ourselves on the issues of racism. We both had hard conversations, with one another and with others. I’ve actually heard my girl already talking to other people about why it’s never okay to treat anyone disrespectfully, regardless of their skin color, because they are special, too, and matter just as much. I protested. I signed petitions. We sent letters to those in authority positions.
We took direct and meaningful action.
We wore masks in public places. We socially distanced. We shopped and ate local when we could. We sent cards to “pen pals” in assisted living facilities because they were on lockdown and couldn’t see their families for months and months because we couldn’t imagine the fear and utter loneliness. Again we looked for ways to initiate direct and meaningful action.
We discovered how to prove to others that their lives matter. And in the process, we began our own transformations into better versions of ourselves.
Sure, we had plenty of movie nights and ice cream parties and our own homemade bakery going on. There was plenty of fluffy, feel-good stuff. But more than that, we did stuff. We did really important, literally life altering, stuff. We challenged ourselves. We stood with and for others. We reached out to those in need.
So, years from now, in a not-so-distant future, when my girl undoubtedly asks me that question, I will be ready to give her a response. And I know that she will be proud of the answer.
Maybe it’s time to ask yourself, “So, what did you do?”
Below are links to a few books if you need help finding a starting place: