To those who are eager to say ‘No’ at this moment in our history, would you kindly and emphatically direct your No to misinformation, fear-mongering and wilful ignorance?
You are better than this.
I have to believe we can be better than this.
If the result of this referendum is a denial of the generous and gracious invitation of our First Peoples, it will be through a ‘victory’ of confusion, deception and fear — that ancient chameleon with his ever-changing skin.
It is distressing to think that though all the necessary information is available — and every ‘concern’ has been answered with reason — the human heart can contort itself into such small shapes, press hands over its ears and yell like a toddler, when it has closed the door to imagination and possibility.
Every time I read through the Uluṟu Statement from the Heart I am washed with emotion at its expansive graciousness, its humble offering and its vision for a future that takes our past seriously, while charting a meaningful path forward.
No ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote will change the fact that we live on the continent that holds the legacy of the oldest surviving cultures on the earth. Our First Peoples have always had a voice; even if many of us have rarely, if ever, listened. The day after the referendum, this will remain unchanged.
However, embedding the Voice into our Parliamentary process and safeguarding it from the whims of an ever-shifting political landscape seems so obviously worthwhile to me I'm honestly shocked the Great Dividing Rager (AKA Dutton) has convinced anyone it's 'divisive'. I am more convinced by those who say it is 'not enough' than those who think it will somehow lead to a 'hostile take-over' (from 3% of our population) or a broken Parliament (at least more so, than it currently may be).
Whether or not it is ‘enough’, it is a meaningful step forward that says 'we're listening and we trust you' to the more than 80% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who support the Voice, contrasted with an alternative that only walks us backwards, saying: 'we're not listening and we don't trust you'.
Without question, the result of this referendum will paint a clear picture of the moral character and maturity of Australia. I hope we are pleasantly surprised to find our baby nation is growing up, putting toddler tantrums behind, and learning from the ancient wisdom of Custodians who have walked these lands long enough to know the arrogance of political opportunists will be forgotten soon enough. But, as my Gomeroi friend Rob Waters tells me, 'We don't inherit the earth from our Grandparents; we borrow it from our Grandkids'. And I want my Grandkids to tell a better story than the one we have today.
So please, for goodness sake, say ‘No’ to deception, ignorance and fear.
Say ‘Yes’ to the gracious invitation offered in the Uluṟu Statement from the Heart.
Want a rad shirt like mine? Check out 'Clothing the Gaps'
IF YOU WANT TO DO SOME LISTENING, HERE ARE A COUPLE OF CONVERSATIONS I'VE HAD RECENTLY THAT ARE WORTH YOUR TIME:
Safina Stewart and Bianca Manning (Common Grace): Season of Creation & The Voice
Larissa Minniecon on The Voice
A casual crucifixion: I never gave a shite about being a Baptist until someone else decided I couldn’t be.
Let me preface what follows by saying that to anyone who is reading this and has a poor impression of (or just doesn’t care about) Christianity, the Church etc, this is (largely) likely to just reinforce that view — and potentially you may not want to waste your time reading this. I suppose I write this primarily towards people who I have shared faith spaces with. At the same time, I feel as cheesed off with those people as you might, so you’re also welcome to read on and then hit me up to grab a beer and complain about Christians. We can be a thoroughly shitty bunch.
I still identify myself as part of the Christian story/tradition. I still see the value in what the Church ought to be. And Jesus remains my model for being human in the way God intends, BUT increasingly I feel like I’m trying to promote renewable energy while wearing the uniform of the big polluters. That’s what it can feel like when you have experienced a more beautiful, robust, ecumenical way of faith….and yet your tribe and tradition carries so much baggage you have to constantly question whether or not there’s any point trying anymore.
Christianity is the story I’ve grown up with to help me understand the divine. And Baptist is the flavour of Christianity I’ve experienced throughout my life. You might have a different flavour and/or story. And I don’t want you to change that. I’m no longer interested in scribbling my story over the top of yours. At the same time, I don’t really feel like I have the option to scribble over the top of mine. I suppose it’s a little bit like English to me. It’s the only language I can speak. If I tried to learn a different language at this point in time, it might be admirable and worthwhile — but I’m also never going to be more fluent than I am in English. Might as well do the best I can with the language I learned to speak my first words in, right? All the same, there’s no excuse to stop expanding my vocabulary or finding ways to get creative with the language I have (particularly as someone who earns my bucks from writing and talking).
Yesterday, the Baptist Association of NSW & ACT hammered the final nail in the coffin (or crucifix) they started to prepare a couple years ago — to kick out churches and pastors with LGBTQI+ affirming theology. It was a lengthy process because Baptists are theoretically democratic. The beauty of democracy is that it aims to represent a diversity of voices. The downfall of democracy is a majority with a position fuelled by fear and prejudice can hijack the system to trample a minority they feel threatened by. Note: that trend ain’t exclusively owned by religious people. But if you can fuel the flames of fear through a well organised network of people, religious or otherwise, you can start a wildfire fairly easily. (If you can’t identify a handful of examples of this from the last couple years on planet earth, you haven’t been paying attention.)
Long story short (or maybe more accurately, long story medium, as I recognise the growing word count here) until yesterday part of being Baptist essentially meant ‘local churches have autonomy to figure out their beliefs and values’. A Baptist attitude has always been characterised along the lines of, “You can’t tell us what to believe from the top down! We figure that stuff out, together in our local church!” The Association (technically not even a ‘denomination’) is comprised of churches that may have divergent approaches at the local level, but choose to associate together in a wider context for the common good. Well, that was apparently the story, until now.
I suppose I always knew there were fundamentalists and legalists in this tribe and I would have always had plenty to vigorously disagree with them about, but I generally found value in the concept of prioritising common ground over points of difference.
Well, turns out there were more fundamentalists than I would have guessed, and they worked strategically and unyieldingly to make it clear: divergent thinking is not welcome here. Theological imagination is forbidden here. Baptist distinctive are held loosely here.
Initially they piled into a poorly disguised Trojan horse using fairly convoluted language around ‘values, affiliation and beliefs’. But it was pretty clear the whole time they only had one bee in their bonnet:
How dare people with the same genitals get married?! How dare they try to live out life-long, faithful, covenantal relationships?! How dare they seek to create stable homes and support each other through thick and thin and in sickness and in health! How dare they raise families? And how dare they try to come to church and get involved and offer their loving service to our communities??? Haven’t they read the Bible and come to the obviously clear conclusion that following Jesus literally just means heterosexual marriage? That was the main focus of his teaching…right?
Ok. I’m being facetious. Some might even say I’m being divisive? But then again, I wasn’t the one who suggested kicking anyone out. And yet, my church, technically birthed within this ‘movement’ will indeed be kicked out.
Yep. A couple years ago, within this very Association I started a church for ‘spiritual misfits’. For those with the taste of bad religion still on their tongues. For those with spiritual and religious trauma. For those with mental and physical health challenges that make attending the local mainstream church a near impossible hurdle. And yes, 100% — for my dear, queer siblings who somehow still manage to see the love of Christ through this all this shite. Part of the reason I did this WITHIN this ‘movement’ is because I believed there was value in demonstrating the diversity of ways faith communities can look. I wanted to show a different way. I wanted to advocate in two directions. To my fellow churches: ‘look at all these beautiful people you have kept out’. And to those who only associate church with judgment: ‘it doesn’t have to be that way. The Church can be life-giving.’ It’s hard not to feel futility in both directions today.
At the end of the day, our community is a taste of heaven on earth and it is not going anywhere, and it does not depend on the approval of the Association. I’m for the misfits. I’m for the fringe-dwellers. I’m only filled with more resolve for our community and ones like it that will inevitably emerge in the years to come. In fact, it feels like one of the most important things I can do at this point is to aid in the establishment of more faith spaces that nurture critical thinking, a genuine welcome and space for the potential healing of these wounded and bleeding victims of another religious war they got caught in the cross-hairs of. I sometimes feel like our church is a sick-bay, that only exists because all these other churches are causing so much harm.
Yesterday, I watched 60% (a troublingly small majority for splitting an association of churches over) of Baptists in this tribe casually crucify a minority of churches and pastors with a different view.
Like I said at the beginning, Christianity is kind of my language, so I can’t help but think in religious imagery. You may think I’m being over the top. But cruficixion feels appropriate. They wielded all the power at their disposal to give a callous middle finger to all of God’s LGBTQI+ children in these churches and anyone who advocates for them. And they didn’t show an ounce of pastoral sensitivity or remorse in the process. Honestly, I see in them the same religious impulse that would nail an unconventional Jewish rabbi to a cross for his teachings on inclusion. I see the same impulse that burns heretics at the stake; the same impulse that starts holy crusades. Sure, their mechanism is more bureaucratic, but put these same attitudes of small-minded fear and self-righteousness in a historical context where you pick up swords or nails or torches instead of documents and constitutions and you tell me what happens. They will argue they are just keeping step with 2,000 years of orthodox Christianity. But dang, seems like crucifying your enemies in the name of the crucified Christ is unfortunately orthodox.
Damn Will, you’re not mincing words here!
Guess not. I mean, what are they going to do…kick me out?
I am more convinced than ever about the beauty of faith and spirituality, as taught by Jesus, the original spiritual misfit who literally spent his life dodging and debating fundamentalists until they crucified him, and he prayed for their forgiveness, then rose from the dead three days later in the ultimate burn: “Yeah? What else you going to try? You can crucify love, but you can’t kill it.”
So Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. And give me the strength to do the same (through gritted teeth).
I believe love wins and I believe Jesus is good news and I am going to keep speaking the faith language I’ve spent a life learning. BUT, I’m not leaving quietly. If you’re going to kick me out, and pastors and churches that think like me, as well as all the would-be pastors and churches that actually want to create safe and inclusive communities. Then you’re going to have to listen to us leave loud. Yep. I’m not going quietly. And I’m going to do my piece to communicate clearly that this wasn’t a split over same-sex marriage. It was a split over fundamentalism and fear. They have sadly taken root deeply in this space. LGBTQI+ friends — hear me very clearly, you are not the reason for this split. You are welcome at God’s table, even if this particular table has become unsafe and unwelcoming for you. The table is a central metaphor of welcome in the Christian language. But when tables were misused Jesus didn’t mind turning them.
There are many days (and nights) where I don’t feel up to the task.
Over the last several years I have genuinely designed life on my terms.
I couldn’t imagine a job that would fit my unique mix of passion, skills and values — so I started a business that could draw them all together.
I wasn’t content with the number of people I knew who couldn’t find a spiritual community that fit who they were — so we started a church for misfits.
I’ve self-published books. I’ve made the podcasts I would listen to. I’ve tried to follow the strands of curiosity that grab me.
I don’t want to be a Dad who kisses my kids goodbye in the morning and then disappears until I tuck them into bed at night. So I’ve learned how to live and work in a more integrated way. I’m baby-wearing at my desk right now. Most days, I have lunch with my family, then read my kids a book before I return to work. It’s true that the boundaries between work and ‘life’ can become blurry like this. But, all of it — every nappy changed, every grazed knee bandaged, every coffee with my wife, every speaking gig, or pitch to a client, or podcast interview — is this not all the work of my life?
Almost every day, I try to acknowledge how grateful I am for this existence. I am privileged on so many levels. I absolutely love the work that I do, the rhythms of our family, the community we get to co-create, the flexibility of being my own boss.
But, always in the mix of this, there is doubt. There are questions. Moments where I don’t feel up to the task. Fear and anxiety.
What am I doing running a business? Do I have any clue how to do that? Do I actually have anything worth selling? Does it matter that most of the business advice out there makes me want to vomit? Will clients keep commissioning me to do this important work - or will they realise I’m just some regular joe, making it up as I go? Am I the best person to be leading a church? Can I actually do both of these things well? Should I have pushed harder into my writing? Should I have gone into teaching? Are my current dreams to produce films too unrealistic? Is my instagram too poorly curated? Should I even use social media? Am I hustling enough? Too much? What am I teaching my kids about the ‘real world’? Though I’m with them often, do they know how much my mind wanders? Should I just get a cushy job where I don’t have to deal with so much existential angst or small business stress? But where? What would I even do, if not this?
When I carry it all in my head, it can feel tangled and confusing and heavy at times. When I write it out in front of me, it helps. I remind myself that the inner dialogue of most people probably looks like some variation of this. Confidence and doubt co-exist. Beauty and confusion intertwine. The path demands patience — and there’s no way around it. Except to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Someone once pointed to the birds of the air, drinking in the free gift of existence and said, ‘tomorrow will worry about itself’.
Today is the only day that you have.
So breathe deeply, and get back to work.
I can still feel my fingers
at the keys,
tapping out eternal warnings
to fellow thirteen year old
pilgrims on the OG
brains early in development
didn’t stop my confident assertions
I came at matters of belief
like a child soldier
lobbing theological grenades
in the name of
birthed from the faces and spaces
that flipped my assumptions
came divinely appointed
the world calls lesser
whom Jesus calls blessed
kept bringing me home to the news
never wanted appeasement
or child soldiers
or fear-based ultimatums
shudder at times
to think of my youthful arrogance
I know this current me-in-progress
fingers at the keys,
tapping out reflections
will appear immature
in my rearview mirror
twenty years from now
And even as
I look now at my own
children in development
I never want them to feel
ashamed of the winding path
they must walk
to come home to the news
only ever looks
It’s been raining for as long as this goldfish can remember
And the forecast shows no sign of change
And I am tempted to complain
about the moat forming around my castle,
I think of floodwaters
Rising to meet eaves
And the displaced ones
Scattered through churning streets
Tries to reckon with invasion
The places where displacement
Is not by nature, but by design
The gridlocked chess match
Of expensive weaponry and fragile egos
History is a finger painting of innocent blood
Much closer to home
I think of the friends who cannot sleep
Battling invisible mental beasts
They text me to pray for them
I pray Psalm 23 for us all,
For the whole flooded, bloody mess of it
Are there green pastures and quiet streams,
Amidst all the dark valleys and enemy tables?
Sometimes I lose sight of the shepherd
As it all swirls through my mind
To the sound of constant rain,
I am hyper aware of the shelter
I have from the storms
I am sheltered — physically and emotionally
And there is no entitlement in it
No deserving of it
The things I am most grateful for
Feel like subtle reminders of injustice
And I don’t know how to do anything else,
Except cry out for the shepherd:
Don’t hide now.
I am frequently paralysed by
the choices of the modern world:
from how to spend $50
to how to spend my own life
which streaming service to keep?
which show to binge next?
Leaves me flailing
on my back,
like a slater
Perhaps this has always been a problem
on some level,
no doubt exacerbated,
by optical fibre
but, how do you choose what you do
with these ticking hours?
Mary Oliver phrased it beautifully;
‘What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’
But sometimes I want to say back to Mary
‘What is it you plan to do with this one wild
selection of Netflix originals?’
Saint that she was,
probably wouldn’t have made the first choice
to even entertain the notion
of the Netflix scroll
She was just choosing which flower
to write her next poem about
and would probably
gently encourage me
towards the hum out the window
of life pulsing electric
through stardust and soil
Ghost Mary reminds me
the choice was never just
whether to rewatch the Matrix trilogy
or try something new
The choice was (and is)
to show up and write
some words on this page
or to distract myself,
catching up to
Of course you can watch movies
and show up
to your creative life
(arguably, it’s essential)
but I know when my own scales
here I am
beneath a thumping fan in the kitchen
I want to write the poems,
Every now and then
in quiet moments,
the desire for ‘greatness’ wells up to my surface
and takes the open mic in my mind’s stage
‘Where is your magnum opus?
Your mass following?
Your literary agent?
Your flowing royalties?
What have you been doing?!
How come you have not been ‘found’ yet?
Why have you not toured the world yet?
Why are you not publicly adored yet?
Well…what will you do about it?’
It is like my ego
has had a few too many drinks
and become narcissistically confident
and deeply self-critical
I feel both berated
remembering that I
am apparently someone special
of best-seller status
and viral TED talk fame
a bulging bank account
Though I have also
missed the boat, the train, the spaceship
I have turned at the wrong times
paused when I should have moved
moved when I should have paused
I have failed
the all-important and never-satisfied god of hustle.
The crushing weight
of my not-so-specialness
presses down upon me
And I’m washed by a wave of
that I have not become great yet
that I have not yet risen
from the ranks of apparent mediocrity
I’m still just here
where life is happening
steadily and quietly
I pour my ego a glass of water
gently caress the microphone
from his trembling hand
sit him down at the bar
I slap him
look him in the eye and say,
You are loved.
Do you think something is only great
if a million people see it?
Do you think being known by strangers
would make you feel more seen
than the eyes of your own children?
Do you think there’s anything out there
you don’t already have, right here?
Do you really think
the wildly successful version of you
in an alternative universe
isn’t still losing sleep over your crap?
And let’s keep walking
the beautiful path before us.
He drinks his water,
wipes a small tear from the corner of his eye
I breathe deeply
in the wonder of my life
and walk outside.
It is happening just like they said it would:
they are growing up fast
I used to hold him like a football
Yesterday he kicked one over the fence
He used to know no words
Yesterday he told me he could see
‘The soft-feathered wings of the day’
6 and he already spins better poetry than me
dresses up like a pirate
like a paramedic
like an astronaut
And I’m still wondering
is he dressing up as a 4 year old?
or has that much time actually passed
since we first met?
They are growing up fast
And you find yourself uttering that phrase
even though you know how cliche it sounds
And I wonder,
if it is just an easy-to-reach-for substitute
for things that are more difficult to say
If you pause too long to ponder
the volumes you’ve already forgotten
the mispronounced words
the day before walking
the night after coming home
it’s dizzying to think about
the rollercoaster tracks in the rearview
And when I say
they’re growing up fast
I think what I really want to say
is that I’m horrified by how casually
I am passing through this gift shop
And I know,
it’s easy to be sentimental
when the household is asleep
and you are writing poems in the quiet hour
And I don’t want to romanticise
the slog of it
the shit of it
the thousand little deaths of it
There are honestly days when I fantasise about
going back to before
back to morning sex
and midday movies
and deciding to go to the beach
and then just going, straight away
this is what horrifies me
more than my kids growing up
It’s the curse of casually spending every season of your life
wanting to space-jump
backwards or forwards
when the miracle, in all its bloody wonder
is always and only ever happening
where you are now.
And you casually let it play
like background music.
You are skim reading the body of your life
You are swallowing without chewing your life
You are driving on auto-pilot through the rich landscapes
of your one life,
Sometimes I feel
like every poem I write is the same
I only really talk about
trying to be present
trying to see the wonder
trying to live and give
from a deep well of gratitude
I write about it so often
because it is
as it is difficult
And the best things are often so
like raising these kids
who are growing up
at the pace of growing up
And maybe all you can show them
is that none of it is casual
none of it is granted
none of it is cheap
Every time oxygen fills those God-given tanks
Every beat that is thumped from that drum in your chest
It is all more dazzlingly wondrous
than any Sci-Fi reality anyone’s ever dreamed of
It is nothing to be casual about.
This everyday miracle.
These are my sons, Noah and Leo.
They both have a penis.
And they both have adorable long hair.
Noah’s favourite shirt has a pink glittery flamingo on the front. Leo collects shiny things like a magpie in his bed.
They are both rough and gentle and kind and fierce and infuriating and fantastic. They are all kinds of wonderful and wild.
This morning the three of us were sitting in one of our favourite local cafes having a babycino date. Sunshine out the window, double-shot flat white in my hand and the glorious site of chocolate mono-brows emerging as my kids made contact with the rim of their cups after every sip.
Another family came in and sat behind us. I could hear the parents talking to one of their children about the exposed air conditioning system and what those large silver tubes snaking all over the roof were there for. I smiled; we had just had this conversation.
When I got up to leave, the mother looked at me with kind, parental solidarity and asked, “How old are your girls?”
My boys are five and three, I thought.
“…Five and three” I said, opting to avoid any awkward vibes.
“We have two the same age. Except they’re boys. So they’re very busy!”
I smiled and walked out, leaving behind the familiar gift of assumptions with a side of stereotypes.
Before I continue, I want to say, this family seemed lovely. There was genuine warmth in the interaction, and I have no doubt these are good parents who love their busy boys well. There was nothing malicious in this interaction.
But isn’t it amazing how quickly our minds make links? My sons have long hair, so the snap judgment is that they are girls. And if they are girls, they must be less ‘busy’ than boys.
I have interactions like this every week. I don’t have time to write a blog post about it every time (that’s what this poem is for).
But this morning I was still stewing over an interaction from the night before.
I was sitting round a table playing board games at a mate’s place. (Gender stereotype much? Sidenote: it doesn’t help that basically every board game ever only refers to players as ‘he’ in the instructions. Seriously. Go read instructions for any strategy game. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it).
Anyway, it turns out one guy’s wife is pregnant. Congratulations are exchanged. Then someone asks, “Are you going to tell everyone what the gender is?”
“Yeah, I think we will”.
“Good choice. You don’t want to end up with a whole bunch of yellow and grey clothes.”
True. You definitely don’t want that. What could be worse?
I gently offer an alternative perspective, “You could just let your child wear whatever clothes they want?”
It was a genuine suggestion, but grey-hater builds on what he perceives to be a joke about how PC the world is becoming, and chuckles: “Yeah. You need to wait until the child decides if they are a boy or a girl first!”
He then tells a story about how his son always plays with trucks and cars as vehicles, but everytime he has seen girls play with trucks and cars they become characters talking to each other. His son never does this. His trucks and cars never have a conversation. He finishes the story by making the point that in the case of his son “it’s not a social construct”, just an observation about how his boy is wired. Read between the lines: he’s following those good old fashioned rules about what a boy is supposed to be like. Phew.
Once again, I am sure this guy is well intentioned and that he and his wife love their little person who has the good sense to play with trucks like they are trucks, rather than characters having an emotional ‘girly talk.’
And I know, in the grand scheme of things both of these interactions may seem small and trivial.
But that is kind of the point.
It’s why I often don’t know how to respond when people project their assumptions on to my kids. It feels like I would be the one making a ‘big deal’ about gender and hair length. Meanwhile, pouring kids back into the moulds they supposedly came from is so socially acceptable you seem like a revolutionary for suggesting yellow and grey aren’t the only colours up for grabs if you don’t yet know whether it’s a penis or a vagina?
This large, invisible framework of gender roles/stereotypes/expectations is actually made from mountains of ordinary, everyday, seemingly harmless moments like these.
That’s the whole point.
If you think your kid is free of any social construct, but the first question you ask someone when they are expecting is whether they are going to announce the gender….then sorry, I’ve got news: you’re handing your kid a pretty clear script for how they are supposed to perform in this world.
And from little things, big things grow.
Could there possibly be any connection between these busy little boys whose trucks don’t talk and these risk taking teenagers who don’t articulate their feelings and these grown up men who are angry and violent and isolated? It doesn’t happen in a single moment, but a lifetime of messaging about what the world does and doesn’t expect from you….might just produce exactly the kind of results we see on the other end?
If you’re not allowed to wear certain colours when you’re an infant how many other options are already being taken away from you? How many unnecessary walls have been built for you to climb, before you have even learned to crawl?
I’m not under any illusion that my house is some kind of magical neutral zone free of social constructs. Our kids are going to have plenty they need to unlearn. But I hope that every time we become aware of an invisible rule, we talk about it. We put a spotlight on it. We ask questions about it. We decide whether or not it is life-giving.
And when the rules are questioned, some of them get ditched.
I live with these wonderful little people who see themselves as poets and artists and inventors and scientists. They paint their nails and love dinosaurs and build towers and collect flowers and kick balls and ride bikes and cry and laugh and scream and give me high fives and kisses on the lips. All of these things are true. Shocking, I know.
And I am sure it is confusing when we leaves our house where we’ve tried to dismantle these rules, and they walk through a world where some people call them she and some people call them he, and then people treat them differently based on which one of these they see. It can feel like it’s a lose-lose. We either start playing by the ‘rules’. Or we prepare for the ongoing bafflement and confusion and social awkwardness.
But at the end of the day, I don’t think is my choice to make. If my kids want to rock long hair and pink flamingo shirts, I’m not going to stand in their way.
Instead, I will try my best to create conversations about why this might confuse some people. I will share about the old stories, the invisible rules that have existed for a long time. I will also emphasise that they aren’t written in stone and they don’t deserve the weight they are given. We will talk about how I am a man and Mama is a woman, and that does mean something, but it has nothing to do with colours or hair or emotions or skill sets. We will ask together, what do these words mean, ‘man’ and ‘woman’? What could they mean? And what are the deeper words we would use to describe who we are?
Maybe sometimes there’s no better word for who you are than your very own name.
If you’ve read this far, could I ask you to consider a simple suggestion? A concrete action that we could all easily take?
It’s one small brick in a big wall, but if we all took down one brick a day, that would make a profound difference (and maybe we could do away with some wrecking balls in the process).
Ready for it?
When you are interacting with a parent and/or their child for the first time, ask an open question without gender assumptions, like this:
"How old is this little person?"
"What is this little person’s name?"
90% of the time the answer will be something like.
“She is two years old.”
“His name is Rupert Made-up-child the Third!”
If they say a name but not a gender, then just use their name in your follow up questions:
“What does Rupert like to do?
This might not seem like a big deal. It’s not going to eliminate all our ingrained stereotyping and assumptions and invisible rules.
But I guarantee you, if you train yourself to ask a question like this first — that little shift in awareness will ripple out in all kinds of beautiful and helpful ways.
After all, from little things big things grow.
The dreamer and the doubter
sit side by side
on my brain’s front porch
The dreamer sits on a pile of pallets flogged
from various roadside heaps
(where he sees great potential)
The doubter is the original armchair expert
feet up on an old recliner,
mirroring his sceptical raised brows
The dreamer points to the nearby door,
entryway to my brain proper
“You know what’s in there?
Ten thousand poems, and a novel or three
a revelatory memoir and a PhD
a groundbreaking series of documentaries
a business model that values artists
a church that restores hope to wounded roadside pilgrims
all integrated with the qualities of
a present father
all-round neighbourhood hero”
“There is so much potential behind that door”
The doubter leans forward and his armchair squeaks,
One thousand and one dreams that will never take form
all scattered, half-baked or halfway gone.
He only ever writes the book’s first page
only ever runs the first half of the race
and it’s derivative drivel
and it’s a sad sight to see.
It’s all wasted potential,
If you’re asking me.”
Suddenly the door creaks open
and a head peeps out
It belongs to the doer,
and he opens his mouth,
“Excuse me fellas, trying to work in here
Bringing to life a couple fresh ideas
And it’s fine if you want to come chew his ear
every now and again with all your hopes and fears
But maybe you’ve both got the goalposts confused?
Maybe the world’s not as clear-cut as win or lose
So, have your little chat but if you want to keep judging
maybe get off your chairs and come make something.”