Monday, July 31, 2017

Receiving honorary doctorate at Mills College, May 2017
After hours of watching accounts of the horrendous actions coming out of our Capitol last week ... .

I lay awake for hours doing what I've not done for a very long time, maybe ever, doing "what ifs."

What if I'd found my life's calling much earlier so that I might have taken advantage of the resume that has been accumulating in this tenth decade?  What if I hadn't been a "late bloomer"?  What if I'd been born much later at a time when women's roles were less limited -- that I'd been encouraged to attend schools of higher learning instead of defining myself only in relation to the men in my life?  What if?

Perhaps -- in these final years -- I would be in a position of such prominence and such relevance that my voice might be one of those listened to in high places, as it is right now, unexpectedly, but at a time when life is ebbing and power as well, as prescribed by expectations that continues to mute the voices of elders.

Finding myself being quoted by others, learning that my PodCasts and interviews are being used in colleges and universities -- in Women's Studies, Issues of Diversity, Civil Rights, etc., is both astounding and hardly believable when I allow myself to dwell for even a few moments on the unlikelihood of such a thing.  So I quickly discount such news as nonsense, until -- in a quiet moment just before sleep -- the reality dawns, and I am lost in wonderment ... .

What about the little Bettys still out there in the inner cities and backwoods of the country, young women of color, yet laboring under the crushing weight of low expectations; undiscovered and still lost in the fog of poverty and undeserved shame? Though we're witnessing a great increase in the numbers of brilliant young black women, especially in the fields of Law and Communications these days, it will take a generation before the inadequacies and injustices have been brought into line with the promises of the founders of our Democracy.

In a nation that places so much stock in white privilege, are we continuing to sacrifice our democracy's human potential in favor of economic gain and the acquisition of wealth?  Does that not doom us to what we're experiencing right now?

Visiting lecturer at Humboldt State University, 2012
Maybe those who have suffered for centuries from the denial of the values upon which our democracy was founded are more sharply aware of their worth than anyone else could possibly be.  Maybe the pathway toward salvation does not run through Wall Street after all, but through the giant sequoias and ages-old canyons so precious to our predecessors on these lands; the Indians.

... and to think that -- at fifty when I married Bill Soskin, who was at the time Dr. William F Soskin, university research psychologist of note, I entered the world of the Academy thinking, " ... if I know all that I know, can you imagine what they (those Ph.D's) must know?  After all, they've had access to years and years of study that I've completely missed."

You know what?

... after a brief time I'd learned that Bill and Friends knew everything there was to know about a tiny sliver of what-was-to-be-known, and that that was about all.

Disillusioning, that.  Still is.

Wish I, or some other wise person, might have found a way to channel Chief Joseph, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Fanny Lou Hamer, Sojourner Truth, or Harriet Tubman to lead us out of the weeds we've found ourselves hopelessly entangled in as the Ship of State flounders in seas of seemingly insurmountable world conflict.  Wonder just what it was that all of these iconic beings shared in common ... surely it wasn't economic status or academic achievement.

Would it not be a major contribution if one could figure out that common denominator, and how to infuse that into humanity in these troubled times?

Maybe then we could find the key to forming that illusive "... more perfect Union."