The media has us fired up. About lots of things. And that’s good. We should be fired up. Fired up equals interested and engaged. We should all be interested and engaged.
An observation: Our culture is ever-changing. (Hallelujah to that!) We often need culture changes. They bring about good things. Improvements to the lives of many.
But I don’t think you can take the culture of now and apply it to the culture of then. I realize this is a controversial statement. But I want you to stay with me for a while.
As culture changes over time, we change with it. We are not stagnant human beings. We are ever-changing. In the best of circumstances, ever growing. Ever learning. Never quite done evolving.
I read different viewpoints about current news events and one thing strikes me: Opinions are polarized. You are on one side or the other. There is no middle ground anymore. Either you believe the accuser or you don’t. Either you believe the accused or you don’t. Either you are innocent until proven guilty or the other way around.
We are best at listening to ourselves, not each other. And this is hurting us. All of us — as individuals and collectively.
I am a mother. It has altered me and in some ways dictates my views on the world. As a mother, I worry and fear for my children. I will do just about anything to protect them. It is at the top of the job description.
I was blessed with a daughter. She is my best friend and the light of my life. Yet I fear for her. I worry about her.
She is vulnerable. Physically vulnerable to people who might choose to be predators. I have known this since the day she was born. It’s something all women live with, deal with because there are bad people out there and they can hurt us if they choose. My husband and I always worked to protect her. It’s the world we live in.
She is married now, but still vulnerable. I outfit her with pepper spray and tell her to be aware in parking lots and to keep her phone close at hand. She locks her door when home alone and doesn’t answer it if she doesn’t know who is knocking.
On the flip side, I was blessed with three sons. They are my best friends (except for the 17-year-old who doesn’t yet recognize his mom as a friend) and the lights of my life. It is a bright life with all these lights. Yet I fear for them. I worry about them.
They are vulnerable. Not necessarily physically, but publicly so to people who might choose to place them in that light. I didn’t think about this when they were born, but it has risen to the surface in the wake of recent public activities and debate.
My husband and I have worked hard — given due diligence — to raising boys who respect not only their sister, but all girls and women. They now have a niece and I think she furthers their realization about how precious females are, how honored and safe and protected their lives should be.
We have also worked to protect our boys from the world at large because the world can be cruel to anyone. It is the world in which we live.
As a mother of a daughter and of sons, I am conflicted. What would I do, how would I feel if my daughter were hurt or attacked physically? What would I do, how would I feel if my sons were hurt or attacked publicly?
In the world we live in, the court of public opinion can take over in a matter of minutes (or perhaps seconds) and people are judged before they have the opportunity to back up their own case. There are always two sides, but in today’s society, these are very polarized. You are either in or you are out.
Reputations and careers are lost. Hurt runs rampant — on both sides of the aisle. It is devastating to everyone involved.
It makes it hard to be a parent of both girls and boys. Which side do I take? Am I forced to take a side?
I wanted to end this column with an answer to my own personal dilemma — loving my daughter and loving my sons and wanting to protect them equally — but I don’t have a pat answer. I don’t even have a suggestion. For me, this may be a first.
It seems the world has become more divisive, polarized and opinionated than ever before, at least in my lifetime. Our culture is changing, but not all change is good. It feels scary for my daughter and my sons — the people I brought into this world in an infinite act of optimism.
And that just makes me sad. Mama bear sad — and there isn’t a sad more sad than that.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.