Rachel Gluck

Something To Talk About

More About: Feminism

Child at Heart?

“We’re all children at heart.” Remember that phrase, dear Reader? While you might think this explains my long hiatus in editorial writing, it doesn’t. Really, I’ll have to chalk that up to the holidays, a stint with organizing a huge benefit set to take place on Tuesday of next week (for more information on this, see: My Bill of Rights), and starting a new blog (One Bold Step).

In the meantime, I want you to think about what this means. Are we really all “children at heart”? Or, instead, are we all Disney progeny, merely comforted by a myriad of illusions about our youth?

I challenge you, Reader, to think about this very carefully. There is an old quote that states: “As long as one person is not free, then none of us are.” I ask you, now, to analyze these two statements in your mind, and apply this same theory to adulthood, if only for a moment. Look at them: first, separately, then in tandem. What is the picture that comes to your mind: is it of your life and its myriad imperfections? Is it of someone other than your Self?

When you peer into these deep, philosophical questions of thought, do you find yourself in a rare, almost meditation-based, state of mind? This, my friend, is the abyss most of us so rarely examine on a daily basis.

Imagine now, that you are a young woman, of age, trying to take control of her life in the face of a daunting series of challenges: parents who hold her inheritance well beyond the time to turn it over (jewelry, and other heirlooms, as well as money), parents who are not really grown up themselves (due to illness and personal issues), being of a minority faith, race, or lifestyle, knowing that women still make only $0.56 for every dollar a man makes unless she is raising a child (Limited Ambitions, current *Mother Jones* issue).... The list could go on for quite a while.

When you think of all this, dear Reader, do you start to think that maybe you are not quite so grown up, yourself? We all have things we want to do with our lives as we get older. Our dreams are always changing. Even when we are “settled,” we still think and create and wonder. And if there are people without certain human rights legislated officially by our Congress and courts, then that is a part of those dreams, too, isn’t it?

Does it mean that those people fighting numerous stumbling blocks in our systems of employment, education, housing, health care, and justice don’t need to stand up and take responsibility? No. Does it mean, however, that perhaps there are more people than we all think that need to be cut some slack? I say that there are.

We cannot expect everyone who wants to get ahead to start out in life with a closet full of fancy suits and perfect manicures. This negates the fact that many people need aid with at least medications and/or counseling of some kind. Many people even still seek help with food and housing, too.

I suggest that perhaps we hold our standards as a society too high. As a friend of mine often likes to say around the office, “Freedom is the answer. So, what’s the question?” In this case, I believe it means that as long as an individual is doing whatever he or she has the mental capacity to do to truly fight for freedom in his or her own life, then that person is an adult. Once a person understands being free in mind and person, regardless of age, ability, gender, orientation, race, creed, or class, then age is not a factor. Neither is how much money we have in our pockets.

Case in point – during the last major recession in this country, many people with Ph.D.s found themselves out of work in large numbers. Do we say that these people are children? Likewise, do we tell someone who is battling domestic violence, especially when it can be as bad thousands of miles away from her perpetrator as it is under her current roof, that she is a child? Do we tell a mother who doesn’t work because she has children that since she does not make her own money that she is a child because she depends on her husband for her financial necessities? Do we tell this to men who stay home while their wives bring home the bacon? The answers to these questions seem pretty obvious, and, yet, it is like so many other things that sit in front of us each day: we forget about them.

As a growing number of people in the legal profession will attest to, our system needs a huge overhaul, and I’m not just describing our system of justice. I’m talking about everything. There are so many people who, no matter how many times they read books, watch television, and listen to a variety of radio hosts across many different view points, cannot bring themselves to admit that they can be wrong. They are impossible to market to, impossible to argue with, impossible to win over ever. They are the “adult” children. But how much of this is their fault? When someone doesn’t understand how ignorant he is, how much blame can we place on him?

These days, we talk about how easy it is for people who should know about whatever their specialty is, from law to farming, to bilk their constituents – especially in the political sphere. Well, these, my friends, are the people who must be held accountable for their actions. These people are the links in the chain that I suggest to you, dear Reader, are really broken. They can hide easily behind nice clothes, grand homes, fine lifestyles, and loopholes in law and life, and do us all a great deal of damage. They are the real enemy.

And even they are ignorant because we need to show them how they can change. They need to see what we have already done to advance society. We must teach our future business leaders and lawmakers and fathers and mothers and guardians of Earth that they can change when circumstances, and reality, require such reinvention. Such action can’t just be for the Madonnas of society. We must educate them in the idea that many things have worked well over the years, and that their “security” is not dependent on hoarding what they can. For those who do now know, this is fear. It is the same fear that stops us from getting a sandwich for a homeless man on the street corner, and it is the same fear that stops us from hiring women who know what they are doing because we don’t want to lose our own jobs.

Yes, dear Reader, we need to see that we really all can be “children at heart.” The innocence in children is real. When we connect the knowledge of the mind with the knowledge of emotion, and don’t try to dress it up in fancy clothing, we can change generations. We probably will not straighten up every Abramoff or De Lay in this generation, but we can teach our future, and keep making changes, and even invent new professions that do not exist right now.

In the meantime, we must be kinder to the people who struggle in full awareness of the fact that they must work on themselves in order to have a better life. Anyone who is willing should be a welcome soldier. After all, in the other camp it’s the people who are willing who aren’t included and can’t move forward there.

Oh, and just in case you’re still a little confused, recall this fact – many CEOs, including Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, wear blue jeans to work. It isn’t the suit that counts, it’s the mind *and* the heart, working together, that keeps us all innocent.

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