Apparently I scare Civitas.
Maybe it’s my upbringing. I was raised by a single mom (my parents divorced when I was a toddler) who was fortunate to have a solid job with the federal government and a supportive family who were the safety net between us and poverty. We were lucky.
Maybe it was my education. I came up through the Virginia public schools, Kindergarten through college (Wahoowa, y’all!). I attended U.Va. on a partial scholarship from a corporation that thought supporting young people of color through higher education was the right thing to do. At Virginia, I volunteered my time helping extend those opportunities. We were a better school for those efforts to make it more diverse.
Maybe it was my career as a journalist where I spent more than a decade writing primarily about education – what the schools were and were not able to accomplish. We are fortunate when our educators have what they need to serve kids, and we are also fortunate that the First Amendment allows us to scrutinize both how decisions are made within our government as well as the folks making them.
Maybe it was the 12 years I spent as a Navy wife, doing my best to support my husband while he served our country. Our oldest son was born while his Dad was deployed. They didn’t meet for four months. During those years, I was astounded by the spouses who held their families together at home even when the military seemed to view them as a burden. We should have done better meeting the needs of all who served then and we should do better now.
Maybe it is the time I’ve spent teaching church school, leading youth group, volunteering for mission trips, room mothering, grade parenting, soccer managing, helping with school projects (happy to share pointers on building an awesome paper mache Grandfather Mountain), running lines for school plays (“Chirp, chirp, I am a robin. A sign that spring is coming.”), and otherwise doing what I can to help the three young men who bless me with the name “Mom,” as well as the friends who have surrounded them, know that they are loved, valued, and supported. We can’t say we love our children and then deny them opportunities.
Maybe it’s the 14 years I’ve spent working for the North Carolina Council of Churches, an organization founded in 1935 by white church leaders who realized that segregation is a sin. (The Council is also scary to Civitas as is our Executive Director George Reed). Since its beginning, the NCCC has taken seriously the notion that we all are beloved and equally valued children of God, and that the decisions and policies of our government leaders ought to reflect that. We can’t read our Bible and skip the part that tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Maybe it’s because I try to live my life from a place of joy, believing good things can come from even the darkest circumstances and that we are all in this together, rather than living from a place of anger, fear, and hostility. We open ourselves to the blessing when we focus less on keeping others out.
So here I am, on Civitas’ left-leaning list (and in excellent company, I might say – hey, AARP and other friends!), not at all meaning to be “shadowy” but believing that we can do better than we’re doing right now. That our children deserve better, those who live in poverty deserve better, those who face disparities created by centuries of racism, sexism, classism, and ageism deserve better, and that the frequently neglected, most vulnerable among us deserve better. I personally believe those things in large part because that’s what I read in my Bible.
Civitas thinks that makes me a scary part of the problem. I think it makes me one small part of the solution.