Think of a fish. Whether it is in a fishbowl or the ocean is up to you. But when you look at the fish, you see the fish...and the water around it...and all the cute little doodads that are decorating the fishbowl (or ocean). You see the whole picture. You see if the water he's swimming in is dirty and needs to be cleaned.
Now see the same thing from the fish's point of view. He just swims through the water all day long. His eyes are open (poor thing can't even blink), but he doesn't actually see the water. He looks blindly beyond it. He doesn't pay attention to what is in the water as he swims in and out of the treasure chest around the plastic seaweed. He swims right through it all without even noticing.
How are we like that fish? Could we say that we are "swimming" through the culture around us, media, society, etc, without blinking an eye as to whether it is okay or not? What would happen if that fish put on some glasses and looked at the water he was swimming in...he'd probably see that it was dirty and wanted it to get cleaned up.
We can so easily be like that fish swimming right through filthy water in our world today. There is filth all around us in the media, in pop culture, the internet, and even creeping into our children's schools. My challenge to you and to myself is to stop swimming through it all blindly, but to step back, take a look at it from the outside, and decide to be a Fish With Glasses -- looking AT the water we are living in, instead of just living THROUGH it.
What is determined as acceptable or morally clean, and what isn't, is up to you to decide, not for me to blog about. But I did want to mention a few things that keep me involved in standing up for what I feel is right, my efforts in preserving a safe culture and environment for my children to grow up in.
- KNOW SOMETHING: I subscribe to a website that keeps me updated on media and pop-culture issues that could use some attention. One Million Moms and the American Family Association are two such associations that strive to promote the family in a clean and wholesome environment. They encourage us to take a stand against the immorality, violence, vulgarity and profanity the entertainment media is throwing at our children. In the email, they inform me of a specific issue and provide me with contact information to fight for the right. One Million Moms makes it especially simple; they even have an email already typed up so I just need to click *send* if it is something I want to stand up for but don't know the right words or have the time to compose a message myself. I have participated with a handful of the things they have sent me and I am grateful that I have.
- SAY SOMETHING: A few years ago, Heidi (a Five Real Mom) sent me an email about a Sports Illustrated magazine that was being displayed in the grocery store checkout lines. The cover had a nearly nude woman on the front and was right in plain view of all customers, including children. Heidi encouraged us all to talk to the store managers and get it removed. I did, she did, we did, and without fail, the store managers were grateful we mentioned it and hadn't noticed it being there (since the racks are stocked by the vendors and not the stores). Yes our hands were shaking. Yes we were afraid of what to say. Yes we had sweaty palms. But each time, the magazines were removed. Because we said something.
- DO SOMETHING: I was volunteering in my son's kindergarten class when the team of teachers popped in a movie for the kids to watch. I cringed. Why were they watching a MOVIE during their HALF-DAY kindergarten class? And why THAT one? It was a movie I had heard about as controversial and upsetting to parents, so I spoke up to the teacher. She thought we'd just give it a try. Within the first 5 minute dialogue, the main character verbally bashed his whole family and said one swear word. At this point, I removed my son from the class. Five minutes later, I talked with the teacher again. She felt defenseless against the other teachers in the team. I offered to play a game with her class -- ANYTHING to get them out of there. Though she didn't have control over the two other classes, but I encouraged her to stand up for her own class. She did. She marched right in and we spent the last part of their "reward" time playing educational games and singing songs. I was relieved to be there and THANKFUL to stand up and DO SOMETHING.
Just take courage. Decide to do something, say something. Respond to what you see, what you hear. I have learned that WOW -- I really CAN make a difference. I HAVE made a difference. Because of my involvement, inappropriate TV commercials have been pulled, TV sitcoms cancelled, funding pulled from various shows, etc. Being a part of this has helped me to find my voice and courageously stand up for the right. I recently heard this quote, and I -- for one -- have felt its truth:
When one person stands up,
it stiffens the spines of those around them.
So go out there. Do something good. Encourage others by your example. Be a fish with glasses ON, looking AT the things that are coming at us, and help the U.S. clean the fishbowl our kids are growing up in.