Sunday, November 27, 2016
But for most of us, it takes a lot of focus and energy to keep our heads just above that waterline, fighting the everyday good fights for family and community. Those good fights being led by our own subjective voices of reason for a myriad of reasons, a hopeful array of daily disarray. There are so many movements to get behind and support, and yet I always come back to one -- domestic violence awareness and prevention.
Growing up, my sister and I witnessed my mother suffer continuous verbal and physical abuse. Her own parents (our grandparents) had told her repeatedly that she "made her own bed," that she married our birth father and needed to figure out how to make it work. That latter part we didn't know until years later, and while not out of the ordinary with the way families sometimes respond, it always hurt my heart that my loving, evangelical grandparents didn't give our mother more support early on. The domestic violence only escalated from that point on until she got us all out. A single mom with two little kids, no child support from our birth father, we were always one pay check from being homeless. Although I don't know what it was then, today according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness among families.
However, we did have help from families and friends, and our grandparents did eventually take a stand and help us as well. Not a moment too soon either because we went from one violent home to another before finally finding peace and love with the man I called dad from age 13 onward. Too many times my mom's life was in jeopardy. Too many times all our lives were in jeopardy. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, three women die everyday in the U.S. due to domestic violence.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently called on governments around the world to increase spending in areas that will empower women, help domestic violence victims, and prevent future abuse. This includes an expanded definition of violence against women and harsher consequences for non-physical violence such as stalking, harassment, emotional abuse, and verbal abuse -- something that the perpetrators of certainly want us to stand down from supporting.
Besides Kidpower, my wife (known as "The Mama" to my regular readers) has also gotten involved in women's rights issues of late due to the contentious election our country has endured. I call it "activate the Mama" in honor of her inspired activism and civic duty in support locally and nationally of the Women’s March on Washington. Their mission is to stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families -- recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.
Of course it's not without its critics, and the differences among the women involved are as diverse as the very nation they represent. However, they are standing up to standing down, and since we have two girls growing up in a world where civil rights may potentially be diminished, I couldn't ask for a better partner to help fight this good fight. We've even adopted a family from a local women's shelter this Christmas, a mother and her two young daughters, to give them gifts that they couldn't afford otherwise. It's a little something and every little something helps when you're struggling to live day to day.
Whatever positive movement you support locally and/or globally, get off the ground, activate your family and make a stand happen. Every little bit of positive change and sustenance can go a long, long way this holiday season and throughout the year, the special gifts that keep on giving.