I wasn’t planning on writing this. You should see my editorial calendar. It is full to the brim with upcoming posts, between the Writing Vows guest bloggers and those ambassadorship “need to write” posts.
In fact, one of those posts was supposed to go live today, but between working full time, curating a guest post series, hosting a mother-in-law, and somehow injuring my right arm from carrying the two year old for too long, I decided that rest took priority to writing. This space was going to stay silent for at least a day, but then I found myself in the middle of a conversation with smart and eloquent blogger friends and I noticed that I had something to say. I felt the need to write that thing I needed to say. Because between everything in my life right now – between the parenting and the working and the need-to-writes, I’m not writing what’s on my heart anymore. I’m creating an editorial calendar and filling it in long before something sparks my passions and that leaves no room for the words that are bursting from my heart on a daily basis.
There is a lot going on in our world. A lot. I mean, there always is, and maybe I’m just more aware of it now or maybe social media is amplifying the resonance of each story or maybe our world is just getting worse by the second. And there are a lot of people who feel personally connected to these issues, no matter how far away from the physical conflict they are. From Ferguson to Israel and Gaza, to Ukraine, to ISIS, to an Ebola outbreak, to suicide, to a debate about abortion happening right in my hometown, people are hurting and watching injustices play out before their eyes. My friends are invested in these issues, and I focus on the news intently, praying for peace in a world that seems so full of hurt.
But I don’t speak up.
At least, I don’t broadcast my thoughts on these issues. My husband and I have talked about many of these issues. We’ve shared news and listened to podcasts together. We’ve discussed the complexities of the issues. But I do not move my thoughts from that personal conversation to the screen. Instead, I stick with what is on my editorial calendar, sharing the words about marriage from bloggers that I love and admire. (Because in the midst of all the turmoil in the world, people are still in the middle of marriages that feel very real and important and perhaps full of turmoil too).
My friends and I create content online. I do it on my blog and I do it on social media. Every once in a while we stop and consider the broader implications of that. What is my responsibility in regards to the issues happening in our world? Should I be saying something? Should I be keeping so silent out of respect that nothing trivial is shared from my platforms? I know within my heart that if I were to stop and wait until all the tragedies in the world were to dissipate, I would be silent forever. But if I were to speak to every one of them, my voice would turn into that of a news agency. That is not who I am. So where do I fit? What am I responsible for? How do I make my beautiful friends and readers who are passionate and hurting feel heard and understood when I am standing silent and carrying on?
I remember when Peter MacKay, a Canadian politician, was being criticized in the news for sending out an internal memo on Mother’s Day praising women for all the work they do behind the scenes at home and a separate internal memo on Father’s Day praising men for how they are shaping the minds of the younger generation. I saw some articles defending MacKay. They included the argument that these were internal memos, not meant to be viewed side by side, and taken separately they were both true and complementary. Unfortunately, those arguments missed the point which is that this male politician has a platform. He must constantly expect people to scrutinize his actions and his words and above all else, he needs to (but fails to) recognize his powerful position in changing the system to get more women in the positions of power.
That seems beside the point, but it isn’t. It is a good example of what my responsibility is as a blogger. All persons of privilege (be it white or male or a politician or a CEO or above the poverty line or a blogger or whatever) need to be very conscious of what they say and how they say it because they do have the ability, and the platform, to change things. In both the ways I speak and the ways I am silent, I need to be responsible for how I am shaping our world.
I will and should focus on my frame of reference (which today is primarily issues on feminism and motherhood) because that is the story that I understand well enough to tell. But I am committed to opening my eyes to other frames of references that I have yet to experience. I want to see and share the stories of my black friends as they process what is happening in Ferguson. I want to pray with my Jewish friends as they are invested in the conflict that Israel is in the middle of and I want to hear the hearts of my Muslim friends as they stand with Palestine. I refuse to let the fear of Ebola overtake me as I understand that this is not about me, but about bad living conditions in places of the world that are not as privileged as the one where I happened to be born. And I refuse to let people be defined by and reduced to one side of a debate or an issue.
I will not write something based on naïve emotions that might only spread misinformation. I do truly believe that I can be responsible in my silence, or my avoidance of certain issues. I don’t always feel like I am the right person to add to a conversation that might be very far removed from my frame of reference. I want to leave room for people who might have a story that carries a lot more impact. Sometimes, I want to keep my little slice of Google search rankings clear so that someone who has a more powerful story than I do can share it and be seen more easily. In doing this, I am trying to show respect to a situation that I know is grave and very important to some people.