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Word for 2020

Home for the holidays, my daughter was describing some issue with her roommates or her classes or her job. Honestly, I can’t remember what she was talking about, probably because I wasn’t listening carefully. What I did do, was jump in with my opinion about what was happening. After I’d held forth for a few moments she stopped me with, “I don’t need you to solve my problems, Mommy.”

What she didn’t say was, “But I do need you to listen to me.”

I heard it all the same.

And that’s my word for 2020.

Listen.

I’m worried about what’s happening in the world, about the high levels of acrimony and anger. My impulse is to fix things, but these issues are so deep and complicated that I don’t even know where to begin.

I’m also aware of my position of relative privilege. I’m female, but I’m white, well-educated and grew up without hardship. My health is good and my family is well (at least at the moment–avaunt evil spirits).

I live in a city that has a history of racial violence, is currently affected by the opioid crisis, but in my neighborhood it’s easy to avoid all of that.

I volunteer at the homeless shelter, give money to various causes, but I’m hesitant to wade it to the larger problems because they seem so complex. Meanwhile, I do my best to live lightly upon the earth, raise my girls to be good people, take care of my critters and do work that helps, or at least doesn’t hurt people.

None of this seems like enough, but I’m aware that problem solving from a POV of privilege is not useful, whether it’s gang issues in my community or my kid’s problems at school.

I think the best thing I can do right now is listen.

To as many people, from as many different backgrounds, as I can.

So that’s my word for 2020.

What’s yours?

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