Sunday, July 31, 2011

What Risks Did You Take Today?

     I grew up in an activist family.  My parents were engaged in human rights and social justice issues.  In the evening, when we'd get together for dinner, my father would turn to me and my two older siblings and ask us this question:  What did you do today for the benefit of humanity?  I didn't understand the meaning of "benefit of humanity," but if I answered, "I helped the teacher erase the chalkboards," I'd get a nod and a smile.
     Many years later, I began to wonder how my life would have been different if my father had asked us, "What risks did you take today?"
     I mentioned this to my older brother, and he said, "That was the question."
     I said, "Um, no.  The question was about benefiting humanity."
     He said, "Those were the words, but the real question was, What risks did you take today?  How did you challenge authority today?  How did you stick it to the man today?"
     I phoned my older sister in B.C. and said, "Remember when we were kids and Dad asked us what we did for the benefit of humanity.  What was he asking?"
     Without hesitation, she said, "What he meant was how did you help your mother today."
     I emailed my younger brother.  He said that he heard this:  How did you help to free the slaves and achieve justice on the planet?



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