I was born on the fence.
I am a fence-sitter.
My father is a wonderful guy. He's not sociable. He's happy living his own life on his own. He's always been a fiscal conservative, and as he gets older, he gets more socially conservative. He spent his career as a CPA, and he would much rather spend time and effort repairing a broken appliance than buy a new one. His father before him taught him how to remove nails from discarded pieces of wood, hammer them straight, and re-use them. He re-built his crumbling, 2 bedroom, 1 bath home, an investment home, almost entirely from floating, unclaimed wood found in Lake Mitchell, AL. He is not religious and almost never discussed God or his beliefs with me.
My mother is the opposite. Quiet is not in her nature. She shared with me, growing up, her liberal views, and most importantly her belief in fighting for the underdog, for those who were marginalized and un-heard. She and I talked about God all the time in a loving and uplifting way, very unlike her own mother, who was an Evangelical, fundamental, Pentecostal preacher. In fact, my mother spent her entire life rebelling against fear, organized religion, status-quo, and rules.
And so that left me, almost always exposed to two sides of the coin, frequently sitting in the middle of all political and social issues. I could see points on both sides. I would give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
As I've moved into my 40's, I have decided it hurts to sit on the fence. My rear end hurts.
What both of my parents never wavered on, when raising me, was that I had, and all humans have, an intrinsic value. And that when we are not in alignment with those values within us and when we don't recognize them in others, we falter. We feel doubt. We feel a knot in the pit of our center. We get pulled away from center. We look for it in the wrong ways and in the wrong places.
In the past months in the U.S., and in the past days, we've seen more people not living with the notion that all humans have intrinsic value. We've forgotten that when we live in line with our deepest values, we live in peace.
Each and every one of us knows that there is value in other humans, just as there is value in ourselves. If we don't see that value in others, then we can't see any value in ourselves. And when we finally admit that and do something that honors the value in others, we feel a release and then a peace.
That is what the Alabama Prison Birth Project is for me. And when you support our organization with your words, your hands, or your dollars, you feel it, too. Yes, you give for the benefit of these mothers and their babies. You give for the benefit of the prison staff who need uplifting. You give for the benefit of the State of Alabama as it struggles to provide a safe environment and trauma-informed care for its inmates. You give for the benefit of the Alabama taxpayer that pays 12 times more in tax dollars for a sick baby to stay in the NICU for two weeks vs. a healthy baby with a regular hospital stay.
But most of all, because you know there can never be wrong in showing another human that you value them and that you value their baby, you benefit yourself.
When you give, you are aligning your actions with your own intrinsic values. You know that it is 100% square on, solidly, the right thing to do. No more fence-sitting for you.
And then, that knot in your gut goes away. Do you feel it loosening?