I first read “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” by Mary Wollstonecraft when I embarked on my undergraduate studies in English literature. It’s a pretty complex, and heavy read. In summary, Mary’s argument was that women, in particular mothers, are the first teachers of their children, and as teachers–mothers must be educated so that they will raise people who will act civilized and educated in society. Their intelligence will contribute to society as it is part of their duty. This was Wollstonecraft’s argument to a very patriarchal society–she understood that in order to demonstrate the rights of women to an education, she must plead to a society ruled by men that educated women would benefit future members of society.
Girlfriend knew the art of strategy.
Wollstonecraft’s daughter, who was also named Mary, grew up to become an author herself, and we all know of her today as Mary Shelley who wrote “Frankenstein.” Lately, I’ve thought a great deal about a woman’s responsibility when it comes to her children, and the fact that she is the first teacher that her children will ever know. And, I ask myself, have I done enough or can I do more?
Parenting is not easy, the role carries with it a magnitude of responsibility, and truly there are no guidelines available and we’re all just going with the flow.
Today–adulting and parenting are even harder than before. We as parents are not only providing the basic needs for our children to survive, but we are also having to explain to them the world that they live in, and to encourage them to find their own voice–because they ARE going to find them much earlier than we ever did. When I was teaching my college level English class one semester, and I had class the evening of the 2016 election, I realized then that the majority of my students (in fact, all but two of them) did not know a world before 9/11.
So, when I was told by my daughter that her high school had plans to walk out 17 minutes before school ended in honor of the Parkland Stoneham high school students and staff, I asked her how she felt about it, she told me that she understood the purpose of why her and her fellow students are walking out and it is to honor those lives lost not just in Florida, but also all the other shootings that have occurred, and then she said, “I just don’t want to die, and others to die because no one is protecting us.”
Here’s the thing, it’s even more important for a young girl like my daughter to be aware of such social issues because they do impact her future. She lives in a home where we discuss politics of both sides–looking at all facts and angles while also being cognizant of the emotions involved with these social issues.
When the word got out that the students were going to walk out, I immediately saw Facebook posts chastising both sides: those students who decided that they will walk out, and those students who decided not to participate.
But, wait, what?
My daughter has a choice, and the choice is of her own volition. I told her that whatever she may choose to do–to do so with her conviction and truth. She is living in a moment where history is being made second by second, and I told her that the question she needs to ask herself is that when she looks back at this time, she must be able to stand by her well-informed decision, and be proud of her choice–no matter what it may be.
Children who made the choice to walk out or to not walk out –needs to be equally supported. One decision should not be pitted against the other. The point is whatever choice they go with, they are making their stance on this issue. Or no stance at all.
With my eye rolling on point, I looked at those posts and thought: puhleeze, spare me the damn posts about how this one group of students did this, while the other did this–and how one group of students are better than the other group. That’s just pure tribalism mentality crap that starting to demonstrate a corroding stench.
The best explanation I saw was from a student, Haley Vonder Haar who helped organized the walk out, and truth be told, in the end, these kids are going to run the world anyway and many of us will be dead by then. Just think about it, these school walk outs, and marches (for our lives) are all but a ripple–and its effect will be a magnitude size wave that will more than likely will hit after the November election.
I’ve learned never to underestimate the power of a million voices.
Therefore, as adults we need to accept the gift from Mrs. Whatsit in A Wrinkle In Time, who said “we must help them stay focused on light when darkness is present.”
And, yes, my daughter did walk out holding up a sign, and she did so alongside her friends and classmates.
So, here’s to those young warriors marching on come March 24th: Focus on the light, and march on.