labels

My children are adopted. My son is not the same color as me. His birthparents are not the same color as each other. My son is a unique color of blended love.

That fact did not matter to me, my husband, our parents and most of our combined families and friends.

The potential color of his future skin didn’t matter. Not to me.

The color of his future skin, whether dark or light or any color in-between, didn’t impact how much I love his little soul. How grateful I am his birthparents wanted a better life for him than what they could provide young, newly dating and still in college.

I don’t care at all what color my son is. Not even a little bit.

And, it bothers me more than I can articulate when you do. Or when you hate people who look like him, or someone who looks nothing like him just because the person looks nothing like you. Sorting humanity by the colors of skin, size of waists, shape of eyes or size of bank account.

I have watched my son grow up in our family, with his sister, at his school, with his friends. The labeling doesn’t happen with children. The kids are all different variations of colors. Scotty calls himself brown because that is the color he sees in the mirror. The only reason why.

Scotty asked me one day why I was “clear” and Jessie was “peach”. To him and his friends color is a spectrum of beauty, not a label for equation of value.

Another day as he has become engaged with more adults, with competitive sports, as we traveled more, Scotty looked at me and asked, “Mommy, when will people start treating me differently and be mean to me because I am brown?”

I had to search deeply within myself for my reaction not to show on my face. I answered, “Sweetie, I hope that day never comes when people treat you differently because you’re brown. No one has to do that. You will always be Scotty. Everyone should treat you exactly the same as they do now, and as they do Jessie, Mommy or Daddy or anyone. Why do you say that?”

Scotty said, “Because I see it. Sometimes it happens until they see you that you’re my Mommy or when you’re not looking. I see it happen to my friends at gym when we are at a meet. When the man at Disney World wouldn’t let me play with the l Star Wars legos because I was brown and he told me I wouldn’t have any money. Then when you heard him and told him you were my Mom. Man, you got super mad at him for that. Remember, you talked to his boss for all the other little kids that happens to when he is in the Lego area. When does that mean stuff start happening more to me? “

“When do I get old enough that people think it’s ok to be mean to me?”

He was 7.

I told him he would never get that old.

There is no age that it is ok for anyone to be mean to him or anyone else. I told Scotty the truth that the problem was with the grown ups that looked at him that way without giving him a chance to show them how awesome, thoughtful, funny, kind and sweet he is. I told him there is never any age it is ever ok to be mean.  To anyone.

Shortly after, a friend from the Christian high school I graduated from posted a meme on Facebook celebrating the KKK and someone burning a cross in a front yard. It was meant to be funny. The KKK was not funny in the 60’s and had not gained any comedic value by 2010. I blocked the person. I sent him an inbox, told him I did and explained why with kindness and respect. Not in anger. In support of kids that look like Scotty and anyone else who looks different.   In support of each of us not exactly the same as each other.  Unique.

The person wrote back ” I didn’t mean Scotty. He’s yours. I know he’s ok.” I wanted to throw up. I never spoke to that person again. Truthfully, I’m ashamed I even know him.

We label kids. We teach kids to label each other.

Until that stops, until we look at each other as humans instead of colors the world outside is going to continue the same. I don’t want to be fit inside some box that got chosen for me by the color of my skin, my weight, my looks, my relationship with God and neither do you. No one does.

Kids have it right. It’s the adults that get this wrong. We can learn from them. We must. A person’s heart – visible through their actions – that’s what defines us. Not our colors. Not our size. Not our nationality.

America, we need to get this right.

How many more people have to die before we recognize it is time to throw away the labels. We talk about whether  our country is or isn’t great, and whether or not we can make it great again.

Without throwing away these labels, the answer is simple.

No; we can’t.

We will not be great again this way. Labels. Hatred. Street warfare. Terror. Malice is not the answer.

Love is.

Appearing in ways that look like acceptance, tolerance, discourse, compassion, understanding. America has never been more great than when we are united. My son and daughter they deserve way better than this world we adults have created.

So do yours.

 

we are america

Freedom is purchased at a price.

Fees negotiated at a market called Power through a seller who goes by the name Dominance. Bargaining often vicious; terms cruel and language crude.

The currency difficult to carry; impossible to save and most recognized as single units:

War.

Blood.

Amputee.

Martyr.

Widow.

Bomb.

Veteran.

Nuclear.

Orphan.

Death.

Refugee.

Torture.

Surrender.

Battle.

PSD.

Massacre.

Zealot.

Combat.

Militia.

Airstrike.

Carnage.

Shelter.

Butchery.

Slaughter.

Hero.

The compensation demanded spelled out in heroes’ blood on foreign fields.   Children’s faces staring at flag draped caskets.  Bloated bodies of war weary refugees washed up on pristine beaches.   The hope of a better future erased from open vacant eyes.

Gettysburg, Benghazi, Bunker Hill, Vietnam, Nagasaki, Iwo Jima, Normandy, Dachau, Somme, Midway, Hiroshima, Bagdad.

We are taught to recite the names of distant lands, battle grounds, immortalized victorious generals.   We stand in quiet reverence at the war memorials.  Shrink from testimonies of human’s capacity to hate.   Americans respect the instinct to fight, to overcome; to demand freedom even when it’s from each other.   We fight for people who look like us; and we fight for everyone who doesn’t.   We fight for the right to live lives free of persecution for our beliefs even when the beliefs we are dying for do not match our own.

The cause is freedom; the fight is just.  We are Americans.   We are free.

This weekend the barbeque grills are lit.  Fireworks unleashed throughout skies filled with red, blue and white lights from the edge of the Atlantic to the shores of Pacific.   Panoramic bursts resounding like cannon fire across the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

Oh say can you see our flag that still flies free.   Compensation waged from valiant humans who look just like you and me.   Men and women.  Moms and Dads.   Heroes each one.  Thank you for the price you paid.  For me.  For everyone I love.  For each of us.

Happy birthday, America.

She’s a grand, Old Flag.  She’s a high flying flag, and forever in peace may she wave.

 

 

 

grow

Dirt.

An independent study of bored humans comparing the beauty of dirt to other elements in nature will result in dirt rating well below things like:  sunsets, waterfalls, snowbanks, mountains, wildflowers, trees.   Dirt gets a bad rap.

Dirt, pretty much, treated like, well, dirt.

It’s ironic.  If I was dirt, I imagine I’d get frustrated.     Without dirt wildflowers and those evergreens where all the snow drapes so beautifully on highly rated, majestic, mountains wouldn’t even exist. Not even a fat, squatty shrub.

Those apples I like – no can do.  No dirt for the apple trees.  Peaches – out of luck.  Tomatoes, corn, french fries – sayonara, potatoes don’t grow in a desert.

It is effortless to overlook the value in dirt.  Far from thinking dirt is beautiful, I actually equate dirt to ugly things.

Dirty.

Even toddlers will recognize dirty is not a nice word.  Something to avoid.  Dirt may be something that gets us into trouble.  Worse yet, getting dirty may result in that dreaded bath.

Here is the problem, I look at dirt at the surface level.

I don’t appreciate dirt’s depth, the nutrients in that dark clump of moist soil that provide the ability for food to grow; plants to thrive; flowers to bloom.

How like humans that is.   First impressions based upon the beauty of a surface.   Girls.  Cars.  Men.  Clothes.  House.  Wealth.

How much I miss when I fail to look deeper.  When I neglect to peer below the surface and recognize the value of riches lying just underneath.  Like dirt, impressions have a tendency to spread.   Influence more than I realize.   I don’t like it, but I may behave differently with someone based upon the outside view.

When is the last time I met a homeless person and invited them to coffee?  Never?

When was the last time I met someone at church, school, a friend’s house party and made plans to see each other again?  Much more frequently than never.

First impressions matter.  How much am I missing in life because I am not taking the time to dig a little deeper.  Know each other better.  Taking the time to invest in someone more.

I think about the many deserts in my life I could convert to fields of wildflowers if I invested a tiny bit more time.  If I looked at a person before glancing away.  Recognized their potential.   The value that person holds; the richness of life just below the surface she shares with the world.

Just maybe when I find myself taking that little bit of extra it takes to really get to know someone I will discover it’s not just them who are blossoming before my eyes, it’s also me discovering how wonderful it feels to grow.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iue-ox63diE

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