By Irena Coz-Lucas
On Nov. 4 at approximately 5 p.m., I was in the midst of my afternoon madness, driving four extremely busy children around to their many, many extra-curricular activities.
I had voted early that morning and was anticipating with relief the cessation of the “Yes on 8” picketing that was on seemingly every major street corner. To my utter dismay, the picketers were still out in force, at least at the intersection of Wildcat Canyon and San Vicente Road, an intersection that I pass through an average of four or more times daily.
Back and forth I drove, seething internally at the exhibitions of intolerance all around me. Then, as I passed by one last time in the light of day, I caught a glimpse of a familiar face carrying a homemade sign, singularly proclaiming “No on 8.”
She was standing on the outer edge of the masses, alone and deliberate. Was she an adult with a track record of liberal beliefs? No. Was she a non-conformist who wanders the periphery of our society in Ramona? No. Was she a well-known left-wing activist? No.
She is a 16-year-old honor student from RHS, with a job, a boyfriend, and a belief in equality and tolerance. She stood there, a lone voice of opposition among a throng of intolerant zealousness, at a time in her life when it is difficult to stand up to one or two peers, much less a “mob” of adults. She is Dylan, an incredible young lady that I am proud to know and who taught me a valuable lesson on that November afternoon.
When I realized who and what I had just witnessed, I called Dylan and lauded her action. Then, I called my husband. As I started to tell him, I became emotional and started to cry, an unusual reaction. Why? Because I was ashamed of myself for not visibly supporting my own beliefs.
I had “talked the talk,” preaching toleration of intolerance to my children and family, but I had failed to “walk the walk,” both literally and figuratively. In our kitchen, the heart of our home, we have many prayers and quotes scattered about the walls. Besides the Lord’s Prayer prominently displayed, there is a passage from the Bible that I copied from one of our church’s (St. Mary’s in the Valley) bulletins. The passage is from the Letter of Paul to the Romans [14:1-12] and the portions that I have highlighted are as follow: “Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions.....Who are you to pass judgment on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall.....Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.....So then, each of us will be accountable to God.”
How dare we judge others? That is an insult to God. As I tell my children when they complain, disagree, or succumb to gossipy pettiness, “Be the best person that you can be, concern yourself with your own behavior, and do not concern yourself with what ‘so and so’ said or did, they do not answer to you.”
I am proud of my children for denouncing Proposition 8 as unjust and for standing strong in their vote for Barack Obama in their class’ mock-election, their votes being the only two for the now president-elect. Despite my poor example by refraining from outspoken support of my own steadfast beliefs, my children are standing strongly behind theirs.
One of the other quotes displayed in our kitchen is from Theodor Geisel (a.k.a. Dr. Seuss). He once said, “Never be afraid to state how you feel.... (or what you believe)....because those people who mind do not matter and those people who matter do not mind.”
I certainly seem to have lost sight of this message, but, thanks to brilliant young people like Dylan and my own children, I have rediscovered how truly paramount it is to affirm your beliefs. Thank you, Dylan, and rest assured that next time there is an opportunity of this magnitude and importance, I will be picketing right along side of you, or I will find the strength and depth of character to stand alone as you did. Kudos to you!
Irena Coz-Lucas is a Ramona resident.