I have a great-niece, a twin, who was a shy little thing as a child. She’s in her early 20’s now, hard as that is for me to believe!
Lauren made a decision. She is running for a seat on the rancheria council, something she feels she can do that will put her in a position to do good for her community. The council job she wants deals with difficult issues — lack of educational opportunities for the young, the impact of drugs on the community, poverty, to name three big ones.
She posted her political goals on Facebook yesterday, what she wants to focus on to build her community if she wins. It drew mostly positive comments from family and friends, of course, but, this being America in 2014, it drew a fierce negativity from a person who buys into the stereotypes that people like Congressman Paul Ryan perpetuate about those citizens Mitt Romney characterized as the “47% who are takers”.
Unfortunately, the negativity had a racial taint as well.
I reminded Lauren that such people will try to yell louder than you to drown your ideas out. They will say and do anything they can to demoralize and destroy your self-confidence. They will try to make you think you are inferior for being you while showing, through their ignorance, just the opposite is true.
Lauren admitted to this woman, honestly, she didn’t want to engage with her any more. The woman mocked her back. Lauren was being polite, but the woman was putting on her “nasty”, that unjustified claim of victory that comes of shouting down the other person. I told my great-niece the woman felt she won.
Fortunately, another poster, a well-educated man from Lauren’s community (I think) who has the power of knowledge behind his remarks, came to Lauren’s defense, adding in the details she didn’t have or, maybe, was too flustered by the woman’s nastiness to think to mention.
Lauren overcame a stutter, some shyness as a kid, a family tragedy when she was little to grow into a focused, committed person with solid family and community values. She does the things people her age do, of course, but she’s taking on this difficult challenge of giving back to her community through political action. She’s chosen the road less travelled.
Lauren’s victory will be to do the thing others say she can’t do, to stick to her values to do the things that support those values, to live in and for her community.