Yesterday was a day when I spent a lot of time thinking about safety:
--Those of you who have been reading this blog know that I've been somewhat obsessed with Hurricane Irene and earthquakes and other signs of impending doom. Let us not forget the drought in Texas, as many parts of Texas shattered heat and drought records in the past week. People complain about the heat in South Florida, but our record breaking highs are 94-96 degrees, not 114 degrees.
And then there's the catastrophe in Africa, both the one going on now, and the ones in the past. For part of the day, I listened to a story on a program broadcast on my public radio station about a mother in the wrong place at the wrong time in Rwanda in 1994, and her desperate attempt to make it to Zaire. Yikes.
--We got news of the death of Stetson Kennedy, who took great risks to his personal safety to expose the evil of the Klan. He was 94 years old and had lived a good life. Still thinking about his life and the ways that our society is better because of people like him leads me to wonder if I'm too concerned about my own safety (health insurance! a steady income!). How would our society be better if more of us started thinking of the common good?
I'm lucky because I got to meet Stetson Kennedy a few years ago; go here for my photo essay about that encounter.
--I spent the better part of the morning crafting a safe space policy for our church. We're switching insurers, and we need to have an official policy: spelling out abusive behavior that isn't allowed, a process that will be followed should abuse occur, a screening process for volunteers and employees, ways we'll try to avoid leaving ourselves open to abuse and liability.
In the process, I looked over a lot of these documents from other church bodies, and felt my emotions shutting down at the thought of all the risks we face, particularly if we're minors. How I wish we didn't have to think about these things. How I wish we lived in a world where people didn't prey on little children.
I know that documents like the one I'm creating make that world closer to reality. I know that churches of my childhood never considered that abuse could occur, and that left a lot of us vulnerable. I'm lucky in that I never experienced abuse at church--but I can't close my eyes to all the people who did.
--Needing to take a break from crafting a safety statement, I went out to buy a car booster seat for my not-so-little nephew who will be visiting soon. For the past few years, we've had a car seat for him that we kept down here. For awhile, I kept it in the car, for reasons that weren't quite clear to me. Did I like being reminded of him every time I came to the car? Was it a pain in the butt to install in the car? Did I like being seen as a woman young enough to have a small child? Was it easier to store it in the car than the house?
So, I contacted a woman on Craig's List and agreed to meet her in the Lowe's parking lot. In some ways, you could see that as a risk, but it felt safe to me. She wasn't likely to show up with a gun and rob me in broad daylight.
And I worried that I wasn't exactly sure what I was buying, but I decided to trust the box. When I got home, it did appear to have been unopened.
--And then, of course, my spouse and I had a bit of a laugh at the memory of the cars of our young childhoods, where our parents just had us clamber in the back seats, back seats that often had no seat belts. For years, my parents had a 67 VW bug, an unsafe car if ever there was one. Yet we survived just fine.
Still, I don't want to go back to those less safe days. Let there be safety statements in our nation's churches, let there be car safety seats for our infants. Let there be brave writers who go undercover to expose evil. Let there be brave mothers who walk across a country to save their babies and then are brave enough to tell the tale. Let there be emergency preparedness that we may never fully need.
On this day, decades ago, Martin Luther King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. It's a good day to think about our own dreams, both for our little children and for our larger society. We change the planet just by existing upon it, so we might as well try to change it for the better.
Phoebe Cates Friday
4 days ago