Are we fighting the wrong people?

standard March 19, 2013 1 response

This month my book club read Behind the Beautiful Forevers, a book that was pretty far out of my reading norm. The story, set in modern day Mumbai, India, was written by Katherine Boo, an American woman who spent three years in the slums of Mumbai interviewing locals and observing the daily comings and goings of the residents.

Let me preface this with a small disclaimer. I am something of a Pollyanna innocent. I tend to see the best in people. I tend to imagine that people are better off than they are.

I knew that many people in India live in extreme poverty. I just don’t think I grasped just how atrocious their quality of life really was.

The book was incredibly well written and researched. It read just like a novel, and it was hard at times to force myself to remember that it was all true, all documented, all still happening today.

Aside from being an incurable Pollyanna, I also happen to be a bleeding heart liberal. And, let me tell you, that’s a terrible combination.

See, until I dove deep into this book’s story, I kinda harbored some faith in the notion that if you donate enough time and money to a cause you can actually help people.

But no. See, what I wasn’t taking into account was the rampant corruption this book exposes. Start with money and good intentions at the top, but by the time it trickles down, lining pockets as it goes, it won’t get to the people who need it most.

Now, one of my friends last night exhorted me to come up with a solution, but I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t have one.

How do you help people who have no interest in helping each other?

I’m glad I read this book, but a little part of me would like to still live in my head where people down on their luck still find it in their hearts to be kind to the people around them, just because it’s what people do. (It’s pretty in my head. You should come visit. We have tea and cookies.)

The thing that’s still going around and around in my head is this.

India houses 1/4 of the world’s hungry, 1/3rd of the world’s impovrished. If those people stopped fighting with each other, stopped stabbing each other in the back to get a tiny bit ahead, stopped robbing each other blind, if those people started working together, trusting each other, helping each other, they could overthow the entire country, the entire corrupt system, in a matter of weeks.

I woke up this morning with the same thought buzzing in my head. Then I hopped onto Facebook and saw that the topic of the day was once again “the Mommy Wars.” (Thank you CNN.) Once again, as we hash out Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, we’re once again seeing women spend countless hours tearing each other down, discrediting each other, back stabbing each other.

I have news for you people.

We’re fighting the wrong people.

Tearing another woman down in an effort to get ahead only serves to bring down all of womankind. You’re not gaining anything.

What could we achieve if instead of envying others their success, if instead of wasting time sabotaging others, if instead of judging, critiquing, and tearing down, we stood shoulder to shoulder and helped each other up?

Maybe, like the residents of the slums we could also overthrow a system that doesn’t serve us. Or are we, like them, too wrapped up in our pettiness and envy to ever achieve that goal?

Wonderful read. Truly eye opening. But don’t believe the cover, there wasn’t a lot of hope in there.

#MotrinMoms and Unfair Anti MommyBlogger Backlash

standard November 18, 2008 8 responses

It always starts with a short message. “Check this out!” or “This really bugs me.” or even “I can’t believe they did this!” One person starts the conversation, another takes up the cause, and because it’s the nature of the Internet within minutes a tiny comment escalates to national proportions.

I was there, on Twitter, when the #MotrinMoms upheaval started. Heck, I joined in! It was a stupid insulting ad. I’m glad to have been a part of the force that took it off the air. It’s always awe inspiring to watch the power of the Momosphere at work.

Last night I was pumped when I went to bed. Think of it! A group of people voicing their opinions on the Internet caused a major corporation take down it’s website in the middle of a weekend. That’s huge!

And then this morning I started reading blog posts about the incident, and the many, many comments that people were leaving on those blog posts and my bubble fizzled.

Why is it that a group of women grouping together to fight an issue get so heavily criticized? Why are we labeled as the borg if we agree with each other? Why do we get criticized and told that we’re playing mean?

A group of women spoke up against an ad that they found patronizing and demeaning to ALL mothers. A group of women asked a company to take down an ad that spoke against something recognized as good for babies. A group of women pointed out many other aspects of parenting that could require the need for pain medication.

Seriously? What’s so wrong with that?

Overnight it became a critique of babywearing moms. Hun? That ad was offensive to ALL moms, not a special section of moms. (If you weren’t offended, you didn’t read the transcript. Or you’re not a “real” mom.)
Overnight it became a critique of Twittering/blogging moms. Hun? Just because we speak up and use a medium that reaches many doesn’t mean we’re the only ones who feel or think something.
Overnight it became about shutting down a company and depriving our children necessary medication. Hun? It was about an ad! And a website! No children were hurt in the process! Seriously, people, get a grip.
Overnight it became about Twittering/Blogging moms not focusing their influence in the right direction. Hun? Just because we chose to focus on one thing one day doesn’t mean we aren’t working hard to save the world on all the other days of the year.

It took a group of women less than 24hrs to get a major corporation to pull an offensive ad and post an apology. Doing so did not detract from all the other important things that “mommy” bloggers are doing all over the world. Sending two or three Twitter “tweets” into the ether did not take down the countless pages of sage advice and support that mommy bloggers offer up every single day. All it did was show the world, once again, that moms have arrived at a place where they are no longer scared to be heard. We’re reading. We’re watching. And we’re ready to let you know when something rubs us the wrong way.

Now, is that really so bad?