As the past few months have flown by, controversy has resurfaced regarding the treatment of minorities and women in our society. While I fully embrace the necessity to react to all individuals with equality and decency, I have to admit the arguments have grown pretty old, pretty fast.
I know what you’re going to say. You’re thinking: “Here is another close-minded Mainer who doesn’t know a thing about the realities of the world.”
However, I may know more than you think, and it all comes from an unlikely source: my grandmother.
My grandmother, or “Grams” as she is affectionately known, is a native Chamorra from the island of Guam. When she was barely my age, she married my grandfather, a member of the Navy, and followed him to Mass. where the two started a family.
Sadly, after having six children, my grandparents divorced and my grandmother was left with the children in an unfamiliar country without a job or money. To make matters worse, her youngest son, my father, was burned beyond recognition at the age of seven. As a single woman in a foreign land, she could have given up. She was young enough to drop everything and run, and we all know how she felt.
The miraculous fact is that she didn’t run. She realized the terrible conditions life had dealt her and didn’t complain. She just acted. She searched the “help wanted” sections of newspapers in order to find whatever job someone would give her. She made ends meet and sometimes it was hard, but she managed to pull through.
As I look back now, I have great appreciation for everything my grandmother did. She could have complained that because she was a minority, because she was a woman, because the women’s rights movement had not yet fully matured, society was against her.
This is why I get so incensed when I walk around campus and some groups are petitioning for equality, but don’t follow these petitions with action. Simply complaining about something won’t get anything done. You have to want something so bad that you can taste it for it to become a reality.
My grandmother wanted more than anything to provide a life for her children and, with a lifetime of hard work, she accomplished this. Groups that protest society’s inequality of women and minorities condescend many women, like my grandmother.
It’s a typical Sunday afternoon in my grandmother’s house, and her six children and numerous grandchildren have all gathered to spend some time together. My grandmother, recently diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, sits in the corner with a tube in her stomach to help her eat. She can’t speak now, but I glance at her and know she is happy with all her loved ones surrounding her. She made it not because some support group told her she could or because she got special status as a minority, but because she just went out and did it. And that has made all the difference.
Ernest Scheyder is a first-year biology major.