Homeland by Allie Barrera

How do you relate to your homeland when it doesn’t feel like home? What does home even feel like? I don’t know exactly. I guess it can feel like different things to different people.

Maybe home is a smell, like your mother’s famous cinnamon rolls on a Sunday morning. Maybe home is a feeling, like the warmth of each exhalation of the sleeping baby next to you. Maybe it’s the sound of your dog’s tail thumping the floor in excitement when you get home from work. I don’t know exactly what home feels like, but I do know what it doesn’t feel like. It doesn’t feel like fear. And rage. Definitely not rage. It doesn’t feel like sexism, and hatred and it certainly shouldn’t feel like sadness. Being an American right now is a strange thing. I still love my place of birth and the people in it. I love their colors, their shapes, and all the flavors they bring to the table. But I’m having a hard time. How do you raise children in this place? It’s really not political in my mind. It doesn’t matter where you stand on the spectrum of conservative versus liberal or what you think about the government, because when it all boils down to it everything drums up emotion, and it’s the emotion of it all that we need to teach our children to navigate. As a mother of boys, I feel like the biggest thing I owe the world is to help mold GOOD men. And to be good, you need to be brave. You need to be brave enough to play with the kid on the playground who maybe doesn’t have someone to play with. You need to be brave enough to stand up for what is right, even when it feels like everyone else around you will give you hell.

One of my favorite authors and activists Glennon Doyle once wrote about the still small voice inside. I recently had a conversation with my oldest son about that still small voice we hear inside. It starts off small, like a feeling. If we don’t listen to it, it gets louder and louder until it feels like we’re being yelled at, but from the inside. That still small voice is what guides us, and if we’re also still and quiet we may learn something from it. I would argue that everyone’s still small voice speaks good. I like to think it’s our soul. I often find that it’s our brain that changes our direction.

I think you can love your homeland and still weep for it. When we live in a world where highly educated women are undervalued because they’re women, and people are afraid to love who they love and even worse people are afraid to defend those who are in need of defense for fear of the wrath they’ll be subjected to, what do we do? And how do we teach our children to do it? Glennon says we stop. We stop, we look up, and we listen. If we’re quiet and awake enough, our still small voice will become just a bit louder and guide us to our place. I think we owe it to our homeland to do that much. And we owe it to our children, so that they may have at least the chance of cultivating the beauty that will change the world.

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