Five minutes in a room with me and you’ll have full view of my “right brain” – my love of art and music, the way I see things in pictures. I could easily drive someone crazy with my endless perspective on passing clouds or objects in the branches of trees.
I’m that person who gets a song stuck in their head and not only hums and sings the tune, but digs deeper for the meaning and connection to me and my life. So, lately it’s been a tune by artist Matthew West. The chorus is really catchy.....
“If not us, then who?
If not me and you?
Right now, it’s time for us to do something.”
Matthew wrote this story after being inspired by a young, incredibly courageous college student, Andrea, who stood up to the Ugandan government over travesties at an orphanage. Not happy with so many children being homeless after the orphanage WAS shut down, she decided to create a safe place for these children and has gone on to start Musana orphanage in Iganga, Uganda.
This young woman is so inspirational and her story incredible. While I haven’t left the country to begin an orphanage or approached foreign government, I believe some of the things I’ve done have impacted others.
My own children have heard my new mantra: “If not you, then who?” (Even my “school kids” have heard me say this!) I let them know that they must act on situations they want to change. I encourage my kids each day to “do something” no matter how small. Whether it’s sticking up for someone else, doing the right thing when others ignore it, going the “extra mile” when you really want to sit down and rest, when you need to just dig a little deeper but would rather sit on the side.
For many years I often kept my opinions on education changes to myself. Silently I went along with decisions, fiercely disagreeing, but kept quiet because I was never asked my opinion. I’d do my job and would continue to “do something” within the walls of my classroom. Decisions would be made and the perception was that I agreed, but I’d research and be sure decisions and policies were created from sound research before I’d ever “jump on”. I guess it’s as I’ve gotten older and more secure in who I am that I now act on the injustice I see, I have taken on more of an activist role – not always popular, but what I know I have to do to stand up for what is right and "do something".
I often share with my kids the things I have fought for – for them and their education, for what’s right in life situations, for what’s best for kids in classrooms, when I question a decision being made, etc. I tell them the good, the bad, the ugly. I share even when I’m not most popular, looked down on, disregarded, even ignored, and when I feel like I’ve taken on something I’ll never win – I want them to understand the importance of doing something even when you may not come out on top. I also share the things I’ve successfully advocated for –humbly keeping the focus on others and the act of doing what’s right.
These days I find myself pondering Matthew’s chorus and asking myself:
- At what point in education do you stir the pot to question a decision?
- At what point is it okay to head directly into conflict when you disagree with a decision that will impact children?
- At what point is it okay to speak up when kids are part of the equation?
- At what point is it okay to have the strength to take the less traveled road to be an advocate for children’s futures?
- At what point do we gain the courage to stand up, as activists, to assure sound decisions are made for our kids and education?
It’s time for us to do something.”