Wednesday, October 12, 2016

If It's Not Right, You Have To Put It Right

There's a song on my playlist that never fails to make me smile and feel better. "Naughty," from Matilda the Musical should be required listening for all kids with a gleam in their eye to change the world. My advocate-daughters took to learning all the words immediately after we saw the show together.

Just because you find that life's not fair it
Doesn't mean that you just have to grin & bear it
If you always take it on the chin and wear it
Nothing will change
Even if you're little, you can do a lot you
Mustn't let a little thing like "little" stop you
If you sit around and let them get on top, you
might as well be saying you think it's okay
And that's not right!
And if it's not right!
You have to put it right!

But nobody else is gonna put it right for me
Nobody but me is gonna change my story
Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty. 

My wee girls in a great big hall.
Matilda makes a case for getting into trouble for the greater good in the long run. It's easy to see the connections between the musical and how we should stand up to bullies in the classroom. It also reminds me about how we should stand up to bullies in politics. But I even make the link to think that it can inspire kids to not let a little thing like "little" stop them from going up to a U.S. senator to say "that's not right" even if they do look awfully tiny in the marble halls of Congress.

U.S. Representative John Lewis
 of Georgia
It also reminds me of civil rights leader and U.S. Representative John Lewis who regularly tells audiences that sometimes we need to "get into good trouble" to make big change. He gave his blood and others gave their lives so that they and all Americans of color might have the right to vote. While I don't relish the thought of me or especially my children being beaten for standing up for our beliefs, nothing's gonna change if we always take it on the chin and wear it. 

I was so excited the last time I took my girls to Washington D.C. because THE John Lewis was leading a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives over the issue of gun laws. Unfortunately, by the time our plane landed and we got to Capitol Hill, the House was closed to the public and the sit-in was breaking up. I wanted to show them what good, non-violent trouble looked like. Still, we had watched him on C-SPAN earlier and they learned about it that way. I think Congressman Lewis might agree that "sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty."

Anyway, the bouncy lyrics of "Naughty" are all well and good when you're feeling empowered and on your game. Sometimes, however, I admit that I feel a little like Matilda's beloved teacher, Miss Honey (a.k.a. Jenny). Miss Honey sings a song about feeling that she is not worth enough. She doesn't think she's strong enough to be the champion that Matilda needs.

But this little girl needs somebody strong 
to fight by her side
Instead she's got me, pathetic little me
And another door closes
And Jenny's outside.

If we're being honest, most of us sometimes feel like Miss Honey who can't gather her courage to speak up in "This Little Girl." But the powerful point is that like many good teachers, Miss Honey sees Matilda. She sees the need that no one else does. And sometimes the person who is aware of a problem has to be inspired by the need of the vulnerable person(s) to find the strength in herself.  

How do you feel about "good trouble"?
What songs inspire you to speak up?

P.S. I'm not a saint. The song "Telly" that literally sings the praises of television makes me insanely happy as well.