Bill of Rights, TLC Style
By Kathy Reschini Sweeney
One great thing about blogging at TLC is that there were very few limits. We blogged about everything from voting to vibrators. The other great thing is that the comments were usually better than the blogs themselves. I am going to miss it - more than I imagined, in fact. I debated about how to use my last blog and decided to just do exactly what I've done since I started blogging here - type whatever came out.
Thus, I present to you my TLC Bill of Rights, and I hope you remember them when the situation calls for it.
THE RIGHT TO READ. We have the right to read whatever the hell we want. That means nobody gets to burn books or ban books or restrict your access to books. Like all Rights, this one comes with Responsibilities. If you want to continue to read a favorite author, you have to buy the books. You have to ask for them at your library. You have to recommend them to other people.
THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE. This is a tricky one, and I was 40 years old before I really got it. You have the right to choose how you spend your time and WHO you spend it with. If you find that you've somehow accumulated companions that are racists, homophobes, jagoffs or just plain toxic, it's time to weed the garden, baby. Nothing new can grow if there is a tangled mess around you.
THE RIGHT TO WRITE. Not everyone can (or should) be a published author. Most published authors - if they are honest - will tell you not to try to make it a career until you've published and sold several books. That doesn't mean you should stop writing. Writing is good for you. It not only keeps your brain in shape, but it can be a fantastic exit valve for all the toxic crap you have brewing in your subconscious.
THE RIGHT TO SAY NO. This is a big one. It means more that the fact that you have the right to decide who can put their hands on you. It also means that your resources - time, energy, funds, emotional fuel - are limited and the only way to keep from stressing yourself out completely is to learn to say NO. It's okay - the first couple of times are really, really hard, and then it gets easier.
THE RIGHT TO VOTE. One wouldn't think it would be necessary to remind people of this, but it is. There are people who died and women who went to prison to assure that we all have the right to choose our elected officials and otherwise direct the destiny of our country. Don't neglect it.
THE RIGHT TO BITCH. This one is, of course, my favorite. You have the right to call or write to your elected officials, or school principal, or retail outlet or television station and bitch-slap them when they deserve it. You might think you are a voice in the wilderness, but if everyone thought that, nothing would be fixed. Instead of sitting in front of the TV, or in front of your computer and ranting to yourself, make a call, or e-mail a note or write a letter. Otherwise, shut the hell up when nothing gets better.
THE RIGHT TO HELP. This is a two-way right. You have the right to ask for help, especially if you do not feel safe. Any person who abuses you does NOT love you. Something that hurts you - whether it is a pain in your chest caused by heartache or a heart attack - needs to be addressed. This bullshit about "toughing it out" is just that. Social services are being massacred in this country, but there are still places to call for help. Start with 911 if you don't know where else to begin. But if you are reading this, then you have access to the Internet, and you can find options in your area with a simple search. The first step away from abuse is the hardest, but it is so worth it! The other side of this right is that if you see someone who needs help - whether they fell in a parking lot, or have kids who don't have winter coats - you need to step up. If you have limitations - physical, financial, or whatever, then you can at least get someone else to help. Yes, it takes time and energy, which are not unlimited resources. Boo fucking Hoo. It's called humanity and even though you can't always tell, it is the mark of a civilized society.
THE RIGHT TO KNOW. We all have it, but if you don't ask, you're not going to get any answers. This applies to so many things, but today I will focus on just one: early detection. Nobody looks forward to medical tests. Mammograms, pap smears, colonoscopies, prostate exams? Not on anyone's wish list for ways to spend time. And sometimes they hurt. Plus, denial is one powerful weapon - hey - if you don't follow up, or have a recommended test, then you don't have to worry. That's how you end up sick as hell or dead. If you need someone to hold your hand, ask. If you need a ride to the doctor's office or hospital, ask. If you need to have something done and you don't have insurance, ask. There are programs, including the one right here on the TLC website, that provide free tests and screenings. Remember our TLC Bumpersticker - Bitch Slap Cancer! You can't fight if you don't know your enemy.
It has been a real honor to meet all of you here on TLC and I hope we can stay in touch, at least electronically. I won't be blogging anywhere for a while - the semester starts soon and I will have three classes - almost 200 kids - plus my day job, so no time to figure out a website or anything. I am on Facebook, though, where I make wisecracks and post funny links, so I'd be happy to be your friend - search for Kathy Reschini Sweeney.
And to the Book Tarts, I am grateful for this forum. It's amazing how far this blog has spread - I still hear from people all over about some of my blogs. Very cool.
This is the longest blog I've ever written but I have to add one more thing, because music is such a huge part of life. This is my current favorite song. Pray for peace!