Whether you're four or 104, that's the message of this children's poem by Shel Silverstein, and it's more relevant than ever, I think.
In a few short lines, it asks some essential questions: Do you know the difference between right and wrong? Do you know when it's time to fight versus flee? Will you trust and rely on your own judgment? Or will you trust and rely on others--whether it's an authority figure or a well-meaning friend?
In other words: who will direct your own moral and ethical compass?
Recently I went through a hard (but fortunately brief) period that forced me to confront all of these questions, repeatedly, on a near daily basis. It brought a number of outside forces into my life that challenged my inner voice. And in the end, my inner voice was one hundred percent validated and vindicated.
But did I need anyone or anything else for that? Not really. Do any of us? No.
Not if we know the difference between right and wrong. And that's when I think about my grandfather--my mom's dad. He went to federal prison for sedition--fucking sedition--and served four years of a 10 year prison term for organizing something that's now federal law: labor unions.
When I think about that dude, I think about how he must have known--despite everyone who said otherwise--that he was on the right side of history. I never met him, since he died 29 years before I was born. If he could stay the course despite rejecting a plea deal from the government and contracting tuberculosis in Leavenworth, then surely I can type some words and put them on the internet.
I mean, come on. Come. ON.
So yes. I can, and will--consistent with the First Amendment and my own moral compass--continue to point out that Donald Trump is a major danger to democracy, the constitution, and our country's safety and standing in the world.
I know it. You know it. His detractors and his supporters know it. The world knows it. And somewhere deep down in his sad, damaged, hollowed-out little gourd of a heart, Donald Trump knows it too.
Dragging Trump is not why I started this blog and regular readers know this; O.H.M. is about a lot more than that, but it's often about my own sense of right and wrong, whether I'm writing about clear mom jeans or refugees.
If there's a singular axiom I live by, it's this, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to live their own truth:
Do not let the motherfuckers gaslight you.