I know. The world is bleak. The world is harsh. The world is dark. We’re fighting a seemingly impossible fight. A fight for humanity. A fight for justice. A fight for just a glimmer of hope at a time in our world when that feels too much to ask. We’re raising kids in this world. We’re going to jobs where we are performing tasks that feel trivial compared to what is happening around the world and right here in our own Country. And while our thoughts feel intentional, while they feel purposeful, while they feel righteous, let me challenge you to think smaller. Today, in Columbus, Georgia, there are kids living in Bibb City who go to bed hungry, who are physically abused, whose education is suffering because they are hungry and abused. In Midland, there are young girls living in homes where they have no voice. In East Highland, there are homeless, hungry people who are cold and discouraged. At Shaw High School, Jordan High School, Harris County High School, Blackmon Road Middle School, Harris County Middle School, and Double Churches Elementary, children are bullied, taunted, and put down, all for reasons beyond their control. They are black, Hispanic, Asian, White, Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, too smart, too dumb, they can read, they can’t read, they speak perfect English, they speak broken English, and they live here. They live in Columbus, Georgia.
It’s easy to focus on the rest of the world. It’s easy to feel intense heartbreak over people a world away. It is much harder when it’s staring you in the eyes on the street corner holding a sign. It’s harder when it’s standing three mailboxes down waiting for the same bus as your kid. It’s harder when it’s checking out in front of you at the grocery store, scrambling to find change in the bottom of their purse.
We march for rights of women who can afford to drive, fly, spend a day away from work. I know, we march for more than that. But if one million women chose to feed a family in their hometown, buy a jacket for kid down the street, or spoke up for the woman in the next cubicle, what would that look like? What would it look like if, instead of focusing statewide, nationwide, worldwide, we looked at our city? At our neighborhood? What would it look like if women across Muscogee County stood with the woman right here at home who was looked over for a department head position, a promotion, a raise? What would it look like if we started fostering the children, the hundreds of children in Columbus who need homes, first? What would it look like if we lead the charge from our homes? If we started from the inside and worked our way out?
We strive to teach our children, our daughters, that beauty comes from the inside. Are we setting that example? Are we living examples of the change we want to see in the world by starting at home?
My heart is breaking too. I’ve seen the pictures of refugees. Of the children who have no idea why their life is the way it is. I know girls who have had to choose what to do with their bodies. I personally know what it feels like to not be heard, to feel less than, to be valued less than the boys.
And I have failed to have the courage to change the things I have control over. I have felt the lack of serenity. I have been unable to see and know the difference.
But it’s time to fix that. It’s time to take control. It’s time to find that courage to change what I have control over. It starts in Columbus, in Cataula, in Midland, in East Highland. It starts at home.