A quiet, tough sidekick
As the youngest and only girl growing up, I was in rough shape. Consistently vying to be one of the bros, I endured everything from “peeing in the woods is easy, Elke” to “get on this hovercraft; I want to see if it’ll hold you” to “hold still, I want to see if you can get out of this like Houdini.” Essentially, I was undergoing nonstop hazing, the desired result for my brothers being a perfectly quiet and tough sidekick.
But there was one hitch in the plan: I wouldn’t stop singing.
Every free moment I’d be humming, mumbling, attempting – and I really mean attempting – to carry a tune. I’d walk around the house for two hours at a time wearing my Little Mermaid robe, adorned in my Flounder slippers and carrying my stuffed hamster named Cookie. Singing one song and one song only: Ariel’s “aah aah aah”s. (And for those of you who don’t know what that is, please reference this video for which I searched “little mermaid ah ah ah”.)
Nevertheless, she persisted
Based on that information, it’s no wonder that the big brothers tried to shut me up at any given opportunity through the effective singing-shaming and physical-mouth-covering techniques. And it’s no wonder that, although I wouldn’t have changed a thing about my childhood, I was incredibly timid about my singing voice up until I was the last kid at home.
This is a small and seemingly insignificant parallel to much bigger issues we all witness. The small guys and gals, the quiet voices that are always trying to be part of the conversation. They get shut out too much and too often. That’s why we love underdog movies! It’s the euphoric feeling of “yeah, take that! We won!” whenever the longshot, disheveled football team makes the tie-breaker touchdown in the last 4 seconds of the championship game. Feel familiar?
That is known as basking in reflected glory or, in other words, the feeling of success based on watching others succeed. And that is why we naturally want the little dude to win. And that is why I’m naturally so furious about climate change.
I hear the stifled cries and I see the rejected expressions. I empathize from my miniscule-in-comparison experiences of being the “stupid little sister,” but I still get it, the overwhelming burning sensation in your core for justice.
With climate change, the people most impacted were not large contributors. They did not cause it. Lower income families are more impacted than those in steadier communities. Third world countries are more impacted than developed countries. People of color are more impacted than white people. Females are more impacted than males. And that, my friend, is why I will never stop fighting for climate action.
Check out this article for a sadly perfect example of these inequalities. And overall, as a lesson in life, I encourage you to empathize with people. Relate their experiences to yours and try to find common ground. You’ll be amazed at the similarities.
Have a great week and don’t be trashy.