“When complaints are freely heard, deeply considered and speedily reformed, then is the utmost bound of civil liberty attained that wise men look for.” John Milton
I mentioned my son in last week’s blog when I wrote about Catherine Hunter’s book, After Light. I’ve been thinking about how we do things, or rather how I do things, particularly those things I think I’m doing in the name of love.
Like all kids, my son would, from time to time, grumble about school or a teacher or tell me he didn’t understand his latest math assignment.
I’d double my efforts to help him succeed. “Let’s do your homework together. We’ll figure it out. We have to work harder. That’s all.”
He would agree begrudgingly, his eyes never meeting mine.
I continued in the same vein. The queen of suggestions, I bombarded him with ideas, plans, and the importance of positive thinking.
There were other times he complained about me not paying attention to him or someone bugging him at school and later still, problems he had at work with a colleague.
And being the problem solver I am, I came up with suggestions. Again, I focused my efforts on being useful. His smile was more beaten than satisfied, but I didn’t see it back then. I was too busy being, you know, supportive.
In my frenzy to be helpful, I didn’t listen or allow him to air his concerns. My suggestions only served to tell him that his feelings and experiences were not important. I know now that he didn’t think his feelings had been acknowledged.
I was hit in the face with this recently not only by Catherine’s book, but also by a conversation I had with a friend of mine. She complained about how unnecessary it was to hold a national inquiry into the missing and murdered indigenous women. “We don’t need to rehash this thing,” she’d said. “We need solutions.”
Yes, we need solutions. But I don’t think these will come without hearing from the families and communities of the missing and murdered women. They need to be heard first and foremost (along with the police and the organizations that failed these women), and their pain and frustrations acknowledged. If a national inquiry is the best vehicle to make this happen, then this is what we must do. It may be our only hope to move forward and ensure we never again allow such a reprehensible loss of life (Fact Sheet of Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls).
I should have taken my own advice with my son years ago. I’m trying to do better now, but what has been lost in the past is hard to regain. I’m not giving up though. Sons, daughters, strangers, or friends, everyone should be heard.
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