Used to

Every time I think to myself about giving up on God or whatever I believe in at the time I get reminded that there is something bigger. I’ve believed in many different versions of “something is out there”, whether that was God, The Sun, Nothing, My boyhood idol (still do), but each time I think of giving up I am reminded just how none of this stuff can be random.

I used to be a male chauvinist.  Nothing crazy, but I did think Men were better than Women.  Smarter, funnier, harder working.  But, my girls changed my mind.  My daughters would tell me about all these powerful women and I started to listen.  I went to the Ruth Bader Ginsburg movie with my daughter and I was changed.  She changed me…

I used to be a guy who used the word “retard”.  It’s just a word, I thought, right?  But, my oldest daughter talked to me and explained her work with mentally handicapped people and how that word is so very hurtful.  She changed me…

I used to be a lot of things.  I used to think a lot differently than I do.  But, then all of the sudden, just in the nick of time, I was changed.  I’m sure every man that has daughters softens a bit.  Right, you become just a little more in tune with your emotions.  Daughters just have something in them that turns the toughest, strongest willed men into someone who can name all the Disney Princesses.

I used to not really understand gay people.  I thought, and I know this is wrong, that they were just looking for attention.  I know that sounds awful, but it’s just how I was.  And then I was around enough gay people that I thought, okay, they are cool, but I just don’t want to see them kiss.  Again, I know, just awful.  But, my daughters told me about a movie called “Love, Simon” about this gay teenager.  They started watching and while I had planned to do a few other things I just sat down for a minute to give it a chance.  I never moved from my seat again until the end of the movie when the boys kissed and I jumped out of my chair clapping with excitement.  I was again changed by my girls…

See, as I always say, I am lucky.  I have people in my life that have changed me.  My daughters keep me involved in everything going on in the world.  Climate change isn’t real until you have argued with your daughter so much about it and read up on it to try and prove your own points until you realize “holy, shit, she’s right”.  Or, cheerleading is boring.  I hate it, until my other daughter teaches me about all the little things she has to do in order to be perfect on the stage with her teammates.  She taught me to love it.

I used to think of black people as different, less than.  I just did.  I’m sure there are a million reasons, environment, economics, whatever.  But, then my God Daughter came into my life.  She changed me…

My little God daughter has taught me so much, just by being born.  All these issues about how to act if and when you are pulled over by a cop.  I have never even had to think about that with my girls.  Cops are their friends, cops are there to help them.   I’m not saying anything close to “all cops are bad”…I’m just saying, we have to teach our little half black family member how to act around police, which to me is INSANITY.  It’s something I never would have thought about, but now I am forced to see it.  So, like what’s happened lots of times in my life, I was taught a lesson and I will change because of it.  My eyes were opened by listening with my ears.  I watched and listened, because it is important for my little God Daughter.  Had it not been for her, I’d be the guy saying “All lives Matter”.

Just because “I used to” be something doesn’t mean I always am.  All I know is that once I started listening I changed.  I think there is something to be proud of by saying “I used to be” because it means, right now, “I am not that”.  It’s important to have your beliefs, but I think it’s more important to listen and surround yourself with people who don’t think the same as you.

I have a family member who “found God”.  It sounds very stupid to say it like that, but growing up, I didn’t know him to be very religious.  But, he found something he believes in, that gives him hope and an understanding of what is now, and what is his future.  I don’t share his beliefs as I am more of a Buddhist thinker.  But, we are able to talk to each other and come to an understanding.  Built on love, but also built on trust that we are both constantly searching for signs from elsewhere.  He’s a better man for finding God, and I don’t tell him he’s wrong, just because I don’t believe in it.  So, when we talk or even argue a bit about the subject it makes us more empathically towards each other and more importantly towards others.

I’m not trying to turn this into some political statement.  I’m not trying to tell you how you should feel.  I’m just saying, if you listen to others, if you are exposed to others, you will be better for it.  You might already be completely enlightened.  You might already know from right and wrong.  Just don’t write people off who aren’t listening yet.  They will find the light as long as you keep shining your flashlight for them.

“We are only as blind as we want to be”

-Maya Angelou




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