I grew up around resilient women who modeled for me the small ways that one could stand against the face of oppression and seek to right injustices.
My mom was one of these women, and I wanted to be just like her when I was young. During a time when our country was drowning in gender wars, racial prejudice, and Vietnam, my mom made the bold choice to move into the inner city to live with marginalized groups of society. Mom knew that with each child she taught in the classroom, each story they exchanged with her, and each resource given toward advancing the welfare of others, she was standing in solidarity with those who lived in hardship and outright oppression.
Now, as a 30-something woman seeking to live my life with fervor and make a positive impact on those around me, I also want to be a woman who cheers on the underdog and rallies for the outliers.
Women hold power in resiliency.
I believe women possess an inimitable passion and enthusiasm for rising in the face of adversity and defending the helpless. (Now, don’t get me wrong: we aren’t alone in this, for men exhibit passion toward ending repressive situations and environments too. But perhaps my admiration for women and our resiliency is in large part due to all the maddening constraints and oppression our gender has historically endured).
Thanks to the abolitionists, suffragists, the movers and shakers of the Civil Rights and Women’s Movements, along with countless others, we’re living as much freer, more liberated, and empowered individuals than we once were. Heroic women like Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Susan B. Anthony, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa, Oprah Winfrey, Brené Brown, and Malala Yousafzai have spearheaded change and transformed long-standing attitudes and beliefs.
Despite the strides women have made, grave injustices and heartbreaking realities still exist: child slavery; civil war; sex and human trafficking; refugees; famines; and poverty, just to name a few.
So, how can you and I defend the marginalized and the helpless in the face of these overwhelming realities? I believe each one of us is positioned to enact change and defend others in our every day—often overlooked—interactions with the world we live in and the decisions we make.
Think about the ways you impact your sphere of influence for the better, and consider these also:
We are defenders when we inspire, encourage, and build up others with our words instead of ripping them to shreds.
We are defenders when we advocate for our children by researching and budgeting for the best medical care for them, or when we open our homes to children in need.
We are defenders when we seek professional help when our marriages are in shambles or when we prioritize making family memories over material items.
We are defenders when we rear our kids’ children or when we instill core values into the lives of younger generations.
We are defenders when we become conscious shoppers and purchase items from women entrapped in poverty such as FashionABLE, Raven + Lily, Noonday Collection, Francis + Benedict, Milk & Honey Market or Ten Thousand Villages.
We are defenders when we raise awareness to the local high school students about the dangers of trafficking or when we mentor a troubled teen.
We are defenders when we protest unequal wages and seek equality in the workplace.
We are defenders when we say “no more” to abusive situations and sexual harassment, or when we remove our children from dangerous living environments.
We are defenders when we are the source of strength for the family during deployments or must pick up the pieces after tragedy strikes.
We are defenders when we lose a spouse and are forced to play the role of mom and dad.
We are defenders in different ways and to varying degrees. Depending upon our season of life or circumstances, we may be enacting change by means of financial support, by praying for oppressed individuals, by raising funds or awareness, by participating in marches and non-violent measures, by being on the front lines, or by mentoring another.
Thank the women you see defending the helpless, learn from them, and become a woman who speaks for the voiceless. Just remember: you can change the world, and intentionally influence it for the better. You really and truly can.
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Bombas: A Successful Business That Is Helping the Homeless
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To the Woman Who Cleaned up After My Autistic Son
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