As the business fable goes, a chicken only makes a “contribution” to breakfast; a pig makes a “sacrifice.” That pretty well describes my social involvement throughout a lifetime – the concerned and helpful chicken, I mean. But as I move swiftly toward my 80s, I am thinking it is high time I make a sacrifice or two.
In the 1950s and 1960s I was going to school, then rearing children when others were protesting and facing violence to end segregation and other forms of racial discrimination. My spirit wrapped around those people I saw on the news, beaten and even slain for what they believed, but my concern was hardly enough.
By the mid-1970s I was a single mom, with all the challenges that entails, and I watched the Women’s Movement from the sidelines. I made my small contribution in breaking through the glass ceiling, but other women did the heavy lifting as to other forms of discrimination, violence against women, and abortion rights.
Every decade it seemed I had responsibilities that overwhelmed desire, and while I contributed at the ballot box and lived my beliefs daily, it was others who gave wholly of themselves to fight poverty, discrimination, and other forms of injustice. The past five years have been more of the same, as my schedule was tied to that of an aging, ailing parent. I blogged, I spoke up, I voted – yet it was hardly enough.
But now that family responsibilities have ended, my activist period is beginning. There are so many injustices that need attention – and the list grows exponentially with this current Administration. But I have some skills, education, and experience as a senior business executive with a strong legal mind and good writing skills to contribute. I recently joined Progressive Women of Arlington and my New Year’s resolution is to find a national organization I might be able to support with my writing. I meet with the NAACP in January.
I have warned my sons that this is a new life chapter for me and they really should put aside money in a “bond fund” to spring me from jail. I well could become obnoxious, marching, objecting, participating in a little civil disobedience as needed. And I will feel right at home with all those other mature volunteers and leaders, because I think Gloria Steinem had the right idea: “Women grow radical with age. Once day an army of gray-haired women may quietly take over the earth.”
Or . . . not so quietly.
— Jonnie Martin