It was a glorious day here yesterday. The parks were full of couples lounging on blankets and kids playing ball and dogs gleefully chasing each other around. We ate lunch outside, then took Miss M to the playground. She pitched a fit when we finally made her leave, then settled down when we let her walk for a while before putting her back in the stroller. She is quite the independent little thing these days, and dearly loves running around with other kids. It's a little heartbreaking, actually, to see how much she loves to interact with other children, given that she so rarely has playmates. We must find her some little friends.
When we left the park, we strolled up a street that we had not been on before. As we admired the architectural details of the row of expensive brick townhouses that backed up directly to the park, an older man pulled up in what can only be described as an obscure and beat up jalopy. It was probably 40 years old or so, and had a funny two-tone paint job. Someone had applied a series of bullet hole stickers along one side of the car. The man who hopped out was late 50's or early 60's, and barefoot. He was trim and muscular and lightly tanned, with longish grey hair and a jaunty grin--self-assured and handsome. He sported a lime green sports shirt and red shorts, and air of carefully cultured quirkiness that only comes from old money. He swung a tennis racket out of the back of the car, clearly fresh from a match.
I was, for a moment, transfixed by him, and I found myself thinking of him this morning. It doesn't matter how much money I make. I will never have that self-assured air that comes from being born into privilege. I know people are people and people have problems no matter what, and I can honestly say that I don't covet enormous wealth. But I do sometimes envy that easy sense of security and belonging that so often seems to come from having been born into money.
Things have been relatively drama free at work since taking this new job, but the proverbial manure finally hit the fan last week over a stupid issue. It was one of those things that shouldn't have happened--a manager higher than than me on the food chain deliberately made a decision that made a low level employee feel invisible and worthless. I was drawn into the situation by the manager's decision, as well, although I had no say in it. I'm powerless to do anything about it, and the harm can't really been undone. It's negatively impacted my entire team and set a real dividing line, and it completely bums me out. There are some things for which apologies and words of support just aren't enough, and this is one of those situations. It all made me contemplate karma, and whether people who do bad things really do get what they give in the end. I want to believe that fundamental decency wins out in the universe, but some days I am not so sure.
And speaking of fundamental decency, or the lack thereof. . .I was looking for something on Facebook the other day, and discovered that they've changed things yet again (which drives me crazy, by the way--stop innovating, FB! I can't find anything!). I never log on to my account, so I always have to play with everything to find the parts I want (which is probably why it feels like they move everything. . .if I used it more often, I likely wouldn't even notice). Anywhooo, I was scrolling through the "notes" tab for the first time, which is apparently where you can read through a compilation of all of your "friends" notes. While doing that, I came across a really awful, horribly prejudiced anti-Muslim rant posted by one of my high school classmates. We're "friends" on FB, but I have not actually spoken to this person in more than 20 years. The post is cloaked in what purport to be educated, academic references, but it's really just awful hate speech. The writer clearly has never actually met a Muslim, let alone had Muslim friends. Let's just say it was written from the perspective of "us" versus "them."
I literally saw red. I started writing a ranting post to him in response, berating him for his ignorance. The world just doesn't need what he put out there. After typing furiously for a few minutes, though, I realized I needed to walk away, cool down, and contemplate the situation before I posted anything. Responding to hate with anger isn't likely to solve the problem. That was a few days ago, and I have not posted anything yet.
As I see it, I have three options: I can ignore it (not happening); I can unfriend him and ignore it (likely also not happening); or I can respond (and then maybe unfriend him). I feel compelled to say something, because I believe that kind of prejudice is simply unacceptable. I can't imagine that he would have posted such a rant about women, or Latinos, or African Americans. Anti-Muslim speech is intolerance, plain and simple, and he needs to know that it's not okay, just like any other "-ism" is not okay (racism, sexism, etc.). I feel like by remaining silent, I would be condoning his speech, even if he couldn't possibly know that I read what he wrote. I feel like I have an obligation to speak up, I guess. It was only by people speaking up and drawing the line that people got over (or are continuing to get over, I suppose) other forms of prejudice.
But I struggle with the content of my response. I just don't understand how people who don't actually know Muslims buy into the anti-Muslim propaganda that some non Muslim extremists are peddling. I keep wondering how he got there. We grew up in a small New England town--99% white, 99% Christian, 99% same. But most of us also grew up to respect diversity. How do people get to being so hateful? And what do I say that will make a difference to someone so misinformed? I suppose I could start a dialogue, start by asking what happened to make him so anti-Muslim, but it's pretty clear from what he wrote that 9/11 is the genesis of his personal flavor of prejudice. There are good and bad people in every race, religion, gender, neighborhood, profession, sport, hobby, etc. I'm not sure why some people can't differentiate between a crazy extremist terrorist and an ordinary person practicing an ancient religion. And not for nothing, but the citizens of Oklahoma City and Columbine and pretty much any poor, drug infested bullet ridden inner city neighborhood in America know all too well that Muslims haven't cornered the market on disaffected young men turning to violence as an outlet for the isolation and frustration they find in their hearts.
Thank you for your comments on my last post. I guess I forgot to mention three things that are relevant to why I feel unresolved on this issue: one, it really does feel like our family is unfinished; two, I turn 39 this summer and T turns 44 shortly after that (and given our modest troubles having Miss M, who knows what will happen this time. . .I don't feel like we have time to be dithering on this decision); and three, we are almost certainly moving to a country in the developing world once I finish my contract here. If I want to keep my job, that's where it will take us (and for now, we're working on the principle that having a job is better than not having one). The second and third factors are driving the decision more than I'd like. I continue to try to resolve my desire to family build at some point (but maybe not right now) with my aging eggs and my anticipated future professional foray into the developing world. It's a hard balance, and I know all too well that if we wait, it may simply become biologically impossible to build our family. If only it were possible to KNOW where the lines are.
Finally, we took Miss M to see the specialist. I might not have mentioned. . .our regular doctor (who is a GP and not a pediatrician) thinks that Miss M is just fine, but she is teeny tiny and he really wanted a second opinion on her growth. He referred us to a pediatric endocrinologist. The specialist spent a long time with us, asking a million questions and examining Miss M thoroughly. We truly have NO concerns about her, other than the fact she's so small. She was 50th percentile for height for a while, and is now at the bottom of the charts for that, too, in addition to being low in weight. She is incredibly active and doing very well developmentally. The specialist commented on how she was beyond where she should be, which is what our regular doctor says every time we see him. Anyway, given that she is exhibiting no signs of anything being amiss, but for her petite frame, the specialist thinks that she is fine. He thinks she may simply be destined to be small. However, he wants to check her again in four months to revisit the issue, as there is a small chance that she has a human growth hormone deficiency. He said that the tests are not so fabulous, and there is no down side to waiting it out at her age.
I really think she's fine. Her appetite is catching up, finally. She eats a wide array of foods, although not as much as I'd like, but we're working on it. But it did give me pause to listen to him. The numbers on her charts seemed to trouble him, although looking at them for the first time since we got here, it's clear to me they made some mistakes. One set of numbers has her not gaining weight for like 4 months, and I don't think that's accurate. But even if some of the interim measurements are wrong, there is no denying that she is small for her age. Sigh.
I'm sure there's more, but that's a long one, and it is late here.