Yesterday, on the way home from work, we were behind several cars all of whom had come to a sudden stop. From where we were we couldn't see why we were no longer moving. And then, we did.
A Canadian goose and her goslings had been crossing the road and the cars all stopped to insure the little families safety. We smiled both at the kindness of the gesture and at the cuteness of the young birds. In fact, their struggle to keep up with mom and look around at the same time was so comical that it wasn't till they were nearly across the street that I looked at mom.
She was walking, head up, her stride was purposeful, her attitude was that she deserved respect, expected respect and that she demanded the space she needed to get her children from one spot to another. And indeed she got it. No one honked their horns, no one called out at them to get out of the way, everyone patiently waited for the last gosling to clear the roadway.
In my mind I thought of that mother bird. I thought of her a lot.
I loved that she expected to be greeted with respect. That she carried herself in such a way that a message was clearly given, "We share this space and right now, it's mine." She expected, not only respect, but to be given the space she needed at that time.
Then it struck me.
I don't ever expect respect when I go out. Never. Not once.
I don't ever expect to do anything but apologize for the space I take. Never. Not once.
I know that there are those who rise into mornings with an assured sense of their place in the world, with a complete expectation that others know their worth, that their use of space will never, ever. Not once. Be questioned.
I want that experience one day.
I don't want to 'be' them. I'm fine with the body and the work that requires my hands. I just want to experience a day where I leave my home without fear and with the expectation of respect from others.
I want to know what it feels like to take up space like I deserve it.
I want to know what it feels like to be on the street without the expectation of social violence.
Just for a day.
Or 8 hours.
I'm not greedy.
Because she expected respect, she walked with such dignity.
So often one gets exactly what they expect - even if/when it's not what is best.
And right now I have 15 t-shirts in my dryer that all say Expect the Best for the guys and staff in the program I support. Maybe you need one too! Would love to send you one :)
I think the nature of some privilege is that people don't realize they have it, till it's pointed out to them. And even then - they'll probably argue that it's not privilege at all. (Spoken as a non-disabled, heterosexual white male who's learned some things.) As a person who simply goes through their day without thinking about 'my' space, I experience what you don't without even realizing I do . . . which also implies I take it for granted.
That's a humbling thought. Thank you for your lessons . . . it saddens me that hard experience is where you're teaching from.
As to the goose . . . it's been my experience that what Canadian Humans display in civility and politeness, Canadian Geese MORE than make up for in obnoxiousness. I live by a lake with a lot of geese that come though and breed there. The babies are cute, and then they're acculturated by their hissing, heads down charging parents and the cycle continues. After all - they are what's left of the dinosaurs . . . .
Ron Arnold, I love your comments, both about the awareness of privilege and about Canadian geese.
Dave, I get it completely. As a fat middle-aged not-yet-visibly-disabled white woman, I have difficulty feeling that I am entitled to space. Lately with the political situation in the U.S. I have felt even more beaten down. It's time to take back some space.
It's good that you've identified this in yourself. Wow. Never?
Never is way too long. You expect and get respect when you are the presenter and/or an important part of a meeting. You shouldn't feel as if you have to give that up when you go out into the 'world' of others.
I think geese (and swans) are good role models. I am not joking - I've been face-to-face with angry geese and swans. You do not mess with them. You respect them or else! (You wonder why it's called "goosing" somebody when you poke them in the bum? Wonder no more. And it hurts when they do it!) Not that I am advocating violence, but I am nowhere as good as I'd like to be at not taking #*%& from those who dispense it.
And...aww...goslings! I would totally stop to let a family like that cross the road. Super cute.
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