Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Protesting at the U.N.
When I was 19 years old, I was part of a group of students that protested outside the United Nations in NYC. Yes. I carried a picket sign in a protest outside the U.N. That's priceless, isn't it? It had been years since I thought about that trip. Then I ran across a few photographs. (And no, the photo above was just for fun. That was a few years before my time.)
Anyway, there I was at the U.N. In my very cool - fake leather bomber jacket with fur trim on the collar carrying a sign that said "Christians for Cambodia." I was a sophomore at Clemson. I have no memory of the circumstances that led to me going. Mostly what I remember is that I had never been on a plane in my life, but I dearly wanted the experience. I'd also never been far outside of S.C., so the thought of flying for the first time AND getting to see New York City was too good to miss. I signed on!
I never shared that trip with my girls until just a few years ago - and they looked a little shocked at the visual of their mom picketing at the U.N. Kate thought it was pretty cool. I remember Taylor's mouth hung completely open --- as she muttered, REALLY??!??
To be honest, I had to google before I sat down to write this blog what was going on in Cambodia at that time - about 1978. I do remember the jest of the protest. I don't remember the specifics. Wikepedia says that it was during that time that the dictator, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge took over the government in Cambodia - and within a few short years, over one million of that country's people had died of executions, starvation and disease. That's likely what our protesting was about. Injustice in Cambodia.
You know. It's interesting the direction our lives take. I can look back now and see a pattern of dots connecting through the years. Maybe even starting with that trip. At nineteen, I had a terribly low self esteem. I was painfully shy. I think I decided to go on the trip because it would force me to do something I would ordinarily never do. It would force me to become something I wasn't. I wasn't self assured. I wasn't strong. I wasn't brave or daring -- but the idea of flying to NYC and protesting at the UN sounded like the kind of thing I wanted to "be."
I liked the idea of it -- and felt if I stepped into that experience it would somehow make me into a different person. I think it worked a little bit. That was one of my first encounters with intentionally taking a step to do something "uncomfortable." We avoid that very often, you know! Doing anything that causes us to feel uneasy. But, you know what I discovered? It did not kill me! Amazing! I did something "uncomfortable" and it did something quite the opposite. I grew stronger.
I have a young friend, Melissa Norris, who shared this good word recently.