- Tue, 13:32: I like to imagine TripAdvisor reviews in 1600s United States. BEST HOTELS IN MASSACHUSETTS would be any that had actual walls.
- Tue, 13:42: RT @amnesty: 90 days missing, we’re still standing to #BringBackOurGirls! @Act4Account http://t.co/br0XRyUyFu http://t.co/XJaFWz1yIc
- Tue, 21:20: My Daughter is in Israel so I am Learning About Hate http://t.co/AIEMm5oM9j
- Tue, 22:28: RT @mimi_albert: Kill your childhood idols (before they kill you). http://t.co/7cZBIDafBE
The first is this:
Wait, are you Jewish?
This is sometimes followed with, "You don't look Jewish."
At which point I don't know whether or not to say, "Um. How does Jewish look?"
Because the thing is that I am not Jewish by heritage or conversion and I want to know why this is suddenly a defining question about me because my daughter has traveled to Israel. Would they ask if we were Muslim if she had gone to Iran, Kuwait? Would they ask if we were Hindi or Buddhist if she went to India? Nobody asked if we were Catholic when we went to Ireland.
The second question is:
Is your daughter Jewish?
And same thing. Same answer. She is not any more Jewish than I am.
But it leaves me with a weird gasp in my throat because most of the times that people ask? There's a look on their faces. It's not a look I'm used to seeing because I present like an able-bodied, middle-income, white woman who is most likely Christian. And that look on most of these people's faces when they ask in person if I am Jewish? It's the face of bigotry.
It's not a face I like.
And it also makes me wonder why they ask? Why does it matter? Jewish people are not the only people who visit Israel or who live in Israel.
But that bigotry against them, and against the Palestinians is real and horrifying. Just look up #israel or #hamas on your favorite social media and you will see calls for death, for genocide. You will see death. You will see hate. And if you have a heart inside your chest, what you see will take away your hope or it will dent it, break off a piece of it.
And, yes, I know that I am lucky. I know that even though I grew up poor, I still grew up white in a country and world that still has glass ceilings and color barriers and hate crimes based on all sorts of things. I know that I can hide my biological differences. But just because I am lucky, doesn't make the bigotry okay. Bigotry is never okay. Demeaning other people, dehumanizing others because they believe differently, worship (or not) differently, vote for the opposite politicians you vote for (or don't vote at all), identify as a different gender than you, are feminists, are women, are gay or questioning or straight, are poor or wealthy, larger sized or smaller sized, are a different race or ethnicity or ability or income. None of that matters. Listen. We need to get to a place where we love people as people not as labels. We need to get to a place where someone like my daughter can visit another country because she simply wants to learn as much as she can about other cultures and experience as much as she can in the limited time she has on this earth.
Which leads me to the third question that was on my Facebook, a question that has been implied over and over again after Israel and Gaze began firing rockets and missiles at each other:
Carrie I love you (so please don't take it personal) but why would you even let Em go there? I know she's a free spirit and will most likely do whatever she wants, but wouldn't she also listen if her mom would tell her to go somewhere safe istead?
That comment was in response to my Facebook status, which said:
Em just texted me that sirens are going off. Then she texted she loved me. Now she is not responding. Must not freak out. Must not freak out. Must not freak out. I am totally freaking out.
The person who wrote that is a super lovely person, but the judgement in her question pretty much increased my blood pressure to dangerous levels. Seriously, I could feel my pulse in my head. That never happens to me. Not even after running or mountain climbing or arguing with my siblings.
And I responded like this:
I appreciate our concern NAME OF PERSON (I am not putting it here because she really is nice), however it has nothing to do with Emily being a free spirit. It has to do with her being an adult who is over the age of 18, who has a life to lead as she sees fit, not how I see fit. We discuss everything before she does it, but the choices are always hers, as they should be. She is a brilliant kid, a passionate advocate for human rights, resourceful as heck and calm in a crisis. When the other young adults she was with were freaking out, she was calming them down, cracking jokes, explaining military strategy, hugging the crying ones. I will never try to make her live her life according to my expectations of safety. Because if I did? She would do nothing. She would never ride in a car. She would never have been a flyer in cheerleading. She would not go to Harvard, which is in a city, which is more dangerous. She would have never log rolled or played soccer or taken Krav Maga or rode horses. She would never be able to enter the career paths she is considering. Yes, she sometimes choses to do dangerous things, but it is never for the sake of being dangerous. It is almost always for the sake of broadening her understanding of the word and/or helping others. I want my daughter to live the fullest, most well-traveled (if that's what she chooses), amazing life possible. Yes, I have to hold my breath sometimes because of her choices. I was a wreck when she cheered. I was a wreck when she hung upside down from a trampoline or jumped off a roof during stunt camp. It doesn't matter. It is her life. Not mine. Military parents (and spouses) go through this and much worse all the time. People need freedom to grow, to make choices, and not to be coddled.
I believe what I wrote, but the comment still rattled me. Actually, it still does. Why do we all think it's okay to judge other people so much and about so much?
We all, including me, need to understand where our judgmental attitudes come from. We need to practice empathy. We need to work towards understanding. No, I will never know what it is to be a man, to be transgender, to be a billionaire, to be Muslim, to be autistic, but I will know what it is like to be epileptic, female, victimized, assaulted, stalked, to live in a car, and to be poor. It's not all the same thing, but what is the same about us all is that we are all humans. We all can be loved. We all can love. We all feel. We all can respect. We can all be respected. We can all try a little bit harder not to live full of hate and instead live full of love.
And sure. We are going to screw up.
And sure. We are going to suck sometimes.
And sure. That will stink.
But it's part of the process, right? And that process has to be full of hope - hope to be better, kinder, hope to make the world less full of hate, bombs, dead children, trafficked women, murders, poverty, and war. We start with ourselves and simultaneously work on the bigger picture. Isn't that what being a person is about? I hope so. I really really hope so.
Random Woman on the Street (Walking her dog with the perfect grooming): Hey, are you still a writer?
Me (Trying to get my dog from humping her dog because her dog foolishly is not into my dog): Um.... what?
Random Woman on the Street: I heard you had another job.
Woman: Not that writing is a job.
Woman: So do you?
Insert my dog still trying to assert dominance over her dog. Visualize my dog giving up because it's just too much effort. He rolls on his side. Perfect dog yaps at him to get up and bites his neck. He does not move.
Me: I'm still writing. I write books. I get paid.
Woman: Oh! Good for you!
She yanks her little, perfectly manicured dog away from my shedding dog who pretty much looks like he has the mange.
(Sparty looking for a little action. Denied. Again. Pants on the couch in defeat.)
Me: I have books coming out next year. I have books that are contracted.
Woman: That's nice, dear. What's wrong with your dog?
Sparty moans. Her dog asserts her dominance. Sigh.
I am never going outside again anywhere there are people.