When I was small, my first memories are of being held, coddled and played with by my parents and my relatives and I thought, "Life is warm and caring."
When my father left us in my fifth year, and I watched my mother cry, I thought, "Life is scary and troubling."
When I suffered a severe burn on my hand as a child, I thought, "Life is physical pain."
When I would play with my toys or my sisters and friends, I thought, "Life is fun."
In school, I thought, "Life is working and learning."
When I approached and reached puberty, I thought, "Life is confusing and full of strange feelings and thoughts."
When I became interested in boys and had my first serious boyfriend, I thought, "Life is being in love."
When I was a single, pregnant teen, sent away by my family, abandoned by my lover, alone, frightened and told I was unfit to raise my own baby, I thought, "Life is about debasement, loss and shame."
Each time I gave birth and felt that wonderful feeling when I held my child, I thought, "Life is about fleeting moments of joy."
When I met, married and lived, day to day, with my wonderful husband, I thought, "Life is mature, comfortable yet still exciting love."
As I struggled on, as we all must, through all the different highs and lows of life, I learned that life is all of that and more...joy, grief, peace, worry, fun, fear, loss, serendipity and epiphanies. Some manage life better than others. Some can't deal with it at all and decided to opt out. Others in my life have shown me the meaning of courage, self-honesty and, as my late aunt put it, "keeping on, keeping on." My husband honors his lost child by making his life the best one he can make.
But the most important thing is that I think life is worth living. In all its joys and sorrows, it is a miracle created by the Universe and something which each person makes as good as they want it to be despite the pitfalls.
But that good life can only be made in the environment of true freedom, where with rights come responsibilities to each other and our world and where each person is free from ANY kind of oppression, be it physical, financial or spiritual. We must be free from the dogma of the self-righteous. We must be free from ignorance, want and hunger. We must be free to learn, to explore and to be enriched by art, science, literature and music.
That is why we must not let the direction that is being taken by the extremist Right determine our future. We must say NO to fascism in the name of religion and NO to corporate person-hood and the idea of alms to the rich. I don't know about any of you, but none of my family, friends and associates are named Exxon Mobile. We must continue to say NO to racism and the encroaching idea of a Christian theocracy. This country was founded by people who felt strongly that the Church and the State should always be separated by law and logic.
So, to counter this, we must say YES to progress, YES to equality, YES to compassion, and YES to all Americans sharing the load.
When we do that, we are saying YES to a life worth living for ourselves and the generations to come.
Footnote* A friend posted this quote and I thought it appropriate to the news of the day;"A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side." — Aristotle