I've always said that if I ever ran for President, my slogan would be "Can't we all just get along?" (Yes, I did just quote Rodney King.) Upon my inauguration I would declare, "Everybody be nice to everybody, starting now."
Some would call me naive, and some would call me stupid, and most would never vote for me in a million years. But, it's nice to know that somebody out there feels me on this. I read a blog post today by Laini Taylor over at Grow Wings that really touched me. Like, even made me tear up. And, anyone who has known me for any amount of time knows full well that I never cry. Sometimes I wonder if I have tear ducts. Anyway, you'll have to read her post yourself because I could never in a million years articulate with such eloquence my beliefs on the state of the world like the magnificent Laini does.
Yes, you will notice that in this post I'm referring you to her post where she mentions my previous post...it's like a never ending house of mirrors! But, Laini really got me thinking (as she always does) about my core beliefs on humanity. Not sure if it's because of the historic election year, or my intense writing of book #2 or my experiences teaching the incarcerated kids, but for some reason, I'm full of deep thoughts lately on how to make the world a better place.
I'm a walking cliche, I realize that. "La-la-la...love makes the world go 'round, blah, blah, blah..." But, ignore my naivete for a moment and hear me out.
Last Saturday I had one of those "aha" epiphany moments. A "Holy crap, that's the key to happiness!" realization. Want to know where I had this brilliant hit-me-like-a-ton-of-bricks thought?
Ironically, I was in jail. Teacher Johnny K was nice enough to turn his older girls' class over to me for a morning, so I could get a feel for teaching girls, which I'd never done. I have to admit, I did prejudge. I won't lie. I was scared. I'd heard things about these girls. Unflattering things. Frightening things. As open-minded as I claim to be, when I'd heard about their alleged crimes, I pictured them stabbing me in the neck with a pencil, tying me up with their socks and holding me hostage under the table while they terrorized the compound, then escaped into the Sylmar hills. Don't get me wrong, I didn't obsess over it. It was a fleeting thought. But, still, I had it. Hey, give me a break...I've watched way too many of those World's Scariest Jail Stories! shows.
Here's the twist. Not only would I never in a million years have guessed any of these girls was capable of breaking a law, let alone murdering someone. I witnessed a fascinating camaraderie I haven't witnessed before. Anywhere. It was touching to watch the girls comfort each other, wipe away each other's tears, share pictures and stories about their babies back home, comb each other's hair, and protect each other from sadness and harm. One girl brought in a fruit roll-up she'd received in a care package. She immediately shredded it into equal pieces for everybody.
They are strangers. They have not known each other for long. But they are a family. They are generous. They listen to one another. They are open-minded and accepting of each other's differences, including gang affiliations and sexual orientation (hear that Prop 8 people??). They have realized that they need each other to survive. It is a very communal feeling. Not at all like the jail shows depict it. Now, maybe the bonding of this lovely group of girls is a fluke. Maybe it was all for show. Maybe they'll go back to their cells and carve shanks out of their notebook paper. But, I'll never believe that.
When I asked at the end of class how they could all remain so nice to each other in such crappy circumstances, they said, "Because we are sisters. We're all we got." I swear that three hour class was a whole book in itself. And a clear affirmation that humans can be good to one another, no matter what they've done in the past. And, again, call me simple minded, but I have to believe that if every human shared just a sliver of generosity and compassion toward a stranger every single day, we'd create the perfect world that Laini and I dream of.
I think I've got book #3 figured out just in the course of writing this post. Amazing what blogging can do!
Thanks for listening...