Wednesday, May 28, 2008

We Are the Powers That Be

The other night I had a long dream in which huge waves were crashing and rolling into shore - tsunami like waves that should have scared me, but I was just enjoying them completely. And last night, my dream was filled with horses and then I was some kind of superhero repelling off a bridge and saving the day. So... I guess I am learning to happily manage even the stresses that could easily be overwhelming now that I am 47! Laird turns 49 today so I am doing lots of things to help him feel special and loved. Example... I made a perfect angel cake last night. I wish I could post a picture of it right here. Wait, I have the power of the internets... here it is.... well, it looks a lot like this one.

We have completed our homestudy visits (whew, is my house ever clean!), and we finished our fingerprints for USCIS, and will start counting down the six-eight week wait for our I-600A approval as soon as we get the last few pieces of paper and a check to our homestudy agency, and our wonderful social worker finishes the report. Wooo hooo! Things are rolling. We hope to know who our kids are by the end of June. Hope hope hope. Still on course to travel in December IF my estimates are correct.

Meanwhile, the day we were in the 'Burgh for fingerprints, we visited Seifu at Tana, who generously gave us some injera starter. We ordered Teff flour, and are ready to start practicing our Ethiopian cooking as soon as it comes. We found a great resource for learning essential Amharic for parents and can't wait to get that in the mail. And we found some great resources at Amharic Kids for getting our kids ready for their new siblings. Next, I'll be looking for more Ethiopian music resources. I believe that to truly appreciate and celebrate someone's culture, you must delve into their language, their food and their music. Our goal is to have our home be a welcoming place for our kids, and to help them with their transition as much as possible by having familiar sights, sounds, and tastes in their new home. We don't want them to be the only ones changing when we all become a family. We are changing, too. And what a beautiful culture to be gathering into our lives. The people of Ethiopia have so much to offer the rest of us: their warmth, their generosity, their affection, and their joy for life are values needed in so many places in our nation and the rest of the world.

Here is a post I wrote for one of the adoption lists I am on, in response to someone who was feeling discouraged and asked "how do you get the world to care?" I received a lot of positive feedback on it, so I thought I would share it here.

Good question. A lot of times I feel this way. You caught me on a day I feel empowered.... so I'll write from this place instead of my ranting place. (I'm not sure why I feel so great today, as this week is filled with stresses like... oh, my home study home visit, an investigation for my security clearance at work, our DHS fingerprint appt, and my daughter's reluctance to talk about the adoption to prep for her interview with the social worker, and oh little things like that!!!)

How do I get the world to care?

Sometimes, I think of how others have done it.
Mr. King did it by inspiring people with words, and empowering them to act.
Mother Theresa did it by serving the neediest people around her with love.
Mahatma Ghandi did it by giving people the tools needed for non-violent resistance.
The Dalai Lama does it by speaking the truth in all his gentleness.
Mister Rogers did it by talking and listening and encouraging and validating.
My mom did it by telling us it is okay to be different and showing us that each person matters by telling stories of the kids in her classroom and how she met their individual needs.
My friend Mike does it by living his life as an example of sustainability, being involved in building his community to be greener and doing research on organic farming.
My friend Maggie does it by teaching one family at a time how to help their autistic child.
My sister-in-law does it by asking doctors to justify the treatment they are prescribing.
My niece does it by inviting friends and family to join in on a project to celebrate her birthday.
My brother does it by creating paintings he posts on his website with a link to information about what inspired the painting.
Sinead O'Connor does it by writing heartfelt songs and putting them out there in the world.
Jesus did it by accepting people just as they are, in whatever place they happen to be, and inviting them to be free.

I think people don't need to be coerced into caring. I believe human beings are born caring, are inherently caring. I believe that when people act (or appear to act) as if they don't care about others' suffering, it is generally because they themselves are suffering. There are huge amounts of human suffering that cannot be seen by neighbors and friends and coworkers and even family members.

Not caring is a learned strategy for coping with powerlessness.

In order for people to act to alleviate the suffering of others, they need to feel as if their actions actually would make a difference. They need to feel empowered to help. Most people in our culture have learned to discount their own power in order to survive. If a person does not feel that she matters on this planet, it is pretty hard to believe that anyone matters.

I honor you for wanting to make positive change in the world. I honor you for seeing what could be done if everyone were aware the way you are. I honor you for knowing you have the power to aid those in need. I ask you to consider what assumptions you are making about people when you label them as not caring. I wonder if there is any way for you to love them just they way they are, and accept them in whatever place they are. As if they mattered just as much on this earth as the widows and orphans. I know, compared to lots of people in the world, your neighbors and friends have it made. They have it made. But, do they know they have it made? Do they feel as if they matter in this world? I think most people are struggling, even those who are apparently "rich." Struggling to find meaning and happiness.

You can't get them to care. You can only care about them.

But why should you, when there are all these widows and orphans who need care?

Because they matter. Each and every one of them. When I think of all those people I most admire for being able to inspire people to act in the interest of those in need, I see one pattern: they are fully present with the person right in front of them, loving them in whatever way this one person needs to be loved.

Mister Rogers says look for the helpers. So when I am feeling hopeless about my power, or about the possibility that others will use their power for good, I spend a little time reading his words. And looking for stories about people doing the helping work. I Do One Thing. I find One Thing to do that will help raise awareness about how easy it is to effect positive change.

Hey, send this back to me when it's my turn to rant, okay?

Have a wonderful day,
"We the people, we're the powers that be." -Jeb Puryear