Last Tuesday was election day in Macon. There were signs all over for the Mayoral race. Pretty heated I think, with a former mayor running against the current mayor, with several others thrown in to keep things really interesting. And all of this being beside the point, as I don’t live or vote in Bibb County.
However, as we drove on election day from the more affluent side of Macon to the destitute visage of downtown, I guess our Princess noticed the signs and asked some questions. Like, what were the signs for? (election) What does a mayor do? (help run the city) She knew about voting because both she and her brother joined me during the last election I voted in.
Finally she asked, as we headed toward Daybreak for our time with our Sister Circle, “Mama, does the Mayor even know about all the people who are homeless? All the ones who don’t have enough to eat? Does he even care? Does he want to help them?”
These questions were asked with such imperative sincerity that it made me just about cry. She struggles with the idea that people could be without homes, even after three years of hearing their stories and getting close to people in these circumstances…..she still can’t understand why. When she sees empty houses, she is convinced that is the solution. All those for sale out here where we live? That could solve the problem.
I listened to her questions and told her we could talk to our friend who helps run the programs at Daybreak to see if she thought the Mayor knew. Then I asked her if she would talk to the Mayor and tell him if he didn’t already know. She was reticent at first, but I believe she would. She feels just that strongly.
Before the Sunday night suppers we volunteered with joined up with Daybreak, it was known as “Come to the Fountain.” My littles know that, as there have been a few occasions where we gathered downtown to serve dessert and coffee on Thanksgiving or breakfast at Christmas. But I don’t know if they knew the story of why it was moved to Central City Park before Daybreak was built. This afternoon on our way home from Sister Circle and Daybreak, they started asking me about it. I told them the truth as I knew it. That some of the downtown businesses would rather not have folks who are in need, as our friends are, hanging around where their potential customers could see them.
Oh the beauty of innocent indignation! “What?” our Princess asked. “Are you kidding me? Does the Mayor know about this?”
I love her.
I love that she thinks that one person in charge can make a difference and would even want to. I love that she is on her way to being a champion for those who, for whatever reason, can’t or don’t have a voice. She can be such sunshine and joy in our lives, but when she gets her mind and heart stuck on something, she’s much like a teething puppy grabbing one’s pants leg. Ahem. She just won’t let go. She genuinely cares and her heart is troubled. She is not going to stand by and let things just happen. Not if she knows it’s not right. She’s a lot like her big sister in that respect. I am so thankful and scared to death to be raising these strong women.
I really don’t want to mess this up. I want to do the right thing for her. I want her to know she is being heard–that her voice matters, even at her age. Her thoughts are important, and I want her problem-solving skills to continue to grow. I wonder how much longer I will let these questions go on before I make a call to the Mayor’s office and set up an appointment. And I wonder how he will respond to the advice and thoughts and suggestions of an almost nine year old.
Eh, he’s probably had worst advisors.
Folks, y’all go and let your voice be heard. About things that really matter. And take some time to listen to the voices of those around you. It’s going to take all of us getting mighty creative to straighten this mess out. As we talked about in our Sister Circle today, the seventh principle about living gracefully in community is, as written by the Magdalene women of Thistle Farms, “Make a small change, see the big difference.”
It doesn’t matter how small, whether nearly 9 or 19 or 97–all voices matter. And can make the change the world so craves and needs. It all starts with listening.