I Can’t Just Go Along To Get Along
Recently, I read Meg’s captivating story of learning a life lesson.
I don’t want to give away Meg’s story but suffice it to say that she learns a lesson about teachers. I was always lucky with teachers. I was introduced to adults in a different light though.
I was an obedient child as far as my parents’ and teachers knew. I won’t go into my elementary school shoplifting compulsion. I watched my little brother suffer corporal punishment on a regular basis. Fighting authority was not for me.
Then a man came into my life with a tremendous, scruffy beard. It was coffee-colored with grey streaks. His hair was a mane around his head. He wore a thick army green winter jacket with a wide furry hood which made his head seem even more enormous. He may as well have growled.
He asked me what my parents fed me. He asked me how warm they kept the house. How they heated our food. He tried to trip me up. Since I was ten and I was trying to protect my parents by lying, he successfully tripped me up several times.
The whole process happened over again on the court stand. I turned red with anger. I started shouting at everyone. I was yelling, “My parents love me. Let me go home.” The bailiff had to drag me from the courtroom.
Suddenly, I was no longer a trusting, obedient kid anymore. The system had taken me from my parents because we were poor. The system had left us in a situation of being so poor my parents could not take care of us. The system included people who had lied from churches to teachers who said my parents did drugs to our extended family who let us down.
No one was telling me to go along to get along. My parents by virtue of their mental illnesses had been outcast and mistreated. I saw this firsthand. It was my awakening similar to that of negative numbers for Meg. But there was a different lesson to be learned for me and it was not productive for life.
It was the lesson that people cannot be trusted so much so that you must always fight. When you see an injustice you fight. When you are sexually harassed, you report it. Okay, now you are stuck doing filing in the research room. When you see falsification of data at work, you report it. Okay, so now you don’t have a career anymore as a professor. When you find out the non-profit you work for is making clients buy money orders at pay-day lenders to pay rent for low-income housing, you raise a stink, it gets you written up. You end up poor and writing on Medium for a couple cents on the dime. I’m not sure it’s the path folks want to follow. Going along to get along is a privilege I wish I had sometimes. I am just blessed, perhaps by the universe, that my husband can picks up these pieces so far.