Who am I? …in 500 words or less?

Me - swimming with the jellyfish

Me - swimming with the jellyfish

I’ve been through this exercise a number of times in the past few years, only looking specifically from the perspective of my location in society and what power or privilege I have or lack depending upon the situation. The anglophone, Caucasian, heterosexual, able-bodied, educated, middle-income me. The female, student and (once) single mother. I know what my location brings to my (and my children’s) benefit. I know where we struggle due to the same.

I’ve also done the inventory of roles I play or have played. The list is long and in-exhaustive: mother, daughter, sister, wife, ex-wife, spouse, girlfriend, friend, woman, employee, employer, co-worker, mentor, boss, manager, director, team leader, chairperson, supervisor, early childhood educator, consumer, activist, advocate, facilitator, writer, reader, photographer, researcher, archivist, runner, cyclist, swimmer, triathlete, cook, cleaner, launder, driver/chauffeur, book-keeper, storyteller, caregiver, nurse, confidante, counselor, learner, student, teacher, navigator, planner, coordinator, social worker, volunteer, organizer…

But I do not define myself in such concrete terms. Who I am is difficult to capture, and more difficult to describe. I am a big-picture-visionary sort of person always looking at things from the perspective of change. How can this situation be improved upon, and how can I be the change-agent or catalyst for such change?

I am forever seeking the ultimate balance, and forever uncertain it can ever be attained.

I have an idealist way of looking at things, yet I struggle with putting it into practise.

The greatest priority in my life is my children, yet I know I must take care of myself first in order to be available to them to my fullest ability. There is a constant battle within me as to whether one takes away from the other.

I often take on too much, always wanting to be/do more than I am.

I speak my mind, and often at the risk of loss, in the hopes of the greater good prevailing.

While I could never be mistaken as an extremist, I always try to do what is consistent with my ideals, without fear of stepping outside of the accepted norm.

I love to read, enjoy my garden, prefer the simple things in life. I have a constant desire to be more creative, yet a need for greater order and structure.

I try to lead be example in my life. Convinced that the best way to raise socially-conscious, compassionate, caring children is to live it myself.

Above all, I like to consider myself a genuine, honest person. I seek the company of those who are real in every aspect of their lives.

I am a dreamer.

I am a doer.

I am me.

We must start to give a damn!

Considering sending this to our local paper(s) as a Letter to the Editor type piece.  I would value feedback to help me polish it up:

We must stop paying lip-service to caring and giving, like we all do. Sure we believe we live in a fantastic city, province, country and society where we all care about one another. But is this really true? Do you care about your neighbors? …regardless of whether they live the same lifestyle as you?

I’m not just talking the neighbors next-door to your stable home, but the neighbors you see when you walk/bike/drive down the street, the neighbors who work near you, the neighbors you see on a daily basis and look right through.

Do you care about the people who aren’t related to you? Do you care about those who practice different cultural traditions? Do you care about the people whose skin color is different? Whose native tongue is not the same? Do you care about the neighbors of varying abilities? Do you care about those who are unemployed? How about those struggling to get by on social assistance? Do you care about the homeless?

I want you to really think about this for a minute. We all say we care. We say we live in a society where no one should have to go without the basic necessities of life. Not all of us agree that society should look after one another. But we all seem to agree that we wouldn’t want our children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, grandparents, or even friends to go without.

Yet, still 1 in 10 children in Canada have lives that feel the direct impact of poverty.

There are a lot of groups out there lobbying government to provide better support to help eliminate poverty, to help children break the cycle and get a start in life. However, I maintain that until citizens as a whole understand and view poverty and those effected by it with compassion, until we all take a stand and say “ENOUGH!” governments will not do enough. I know it’s often difficult to believe, but our government can do very little if it is not the will of the people.

Why must we make it our will to eliminate poverty?

I recently read a memoir of a child of poverty, named Tiny. Her book “Criminal of Poverty” gives a very clear picture of how it is next to impossible to climb out of the depths of poverty when growing up homeless in America. The deeper the depths, the harder it is.

Not having lived it, I can only imagine. When I think back on times when I was struggling to make ends meet, and how stressful it was to not be able to pay the bills, I recall just how much of my energy was drained of me. To be without food, housing, healthcare, etc. could only leave me entirely without energy or time to do anything. Being consumed with thoughts of where the next meal is coming from, how I am going to keep a roof over my family’s head one more month, week, night… Then to further escalate that with additional requirements for those I care for, I can only fathom the despair I might feel.

It is a documented fact that poverty breeds health issues, in a BIG, BIG way. It is the number one determinant of health. We MUST find a way to end the cycle and make a better life for our next generations.

Just consider if that person you walk so quickly past while turning your other cheek were your daughter or son, mother or father… and that the stranger walking by not giving a damn were someone other than you. Would you not hope, that someone for just an instance would see your loved one as a human being with needs that they are simple unable to meet, for whatever reason that may have befallen them? Would you not be grateful to that stranger for offering your loved one a hand up? Even so much as a hot drink, a kind word, or perhaps something much much more substantial?

Next time you walk on by, remember the person you see right through, has loved ones who only want the best for them too.

A concerned citizen,

Trish McCourt, BSW, SWC