Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Mom's lesson

I am leaving early tomorrow for Los Angeles for my union's national convention.
With my mom sick in the hospital, I contemplated not going.

Then I remembered a day a long time ago, when mom came home from the grocery store and announced that we would not have table grapes because a man in California was asking people not to buy them and he was trying to help the farmers.
I knew I had cousins in California, and I figured if it helped them that was good enough for me.
Years later, I would realize my family had participated in the 1965-1970 Delano Grape Strike and Boycott and that man was Cezar Chavez, who would become one of my heroes. The picture of he and Bobby Kennedy sitting together (on the above web link) hangs in my office.

Mom never said the word union, never said boycott, never said United Farm Workers, she simply said people needed our help. She also taught us that we are all children of God, and as such, were all brothers and sisters.

It was not my cousins we were helping, it was my brothers and sisters.

I leave my angel to go to the City of Angels, to represent my members, to advocate for my patients, to continue the work of Cesar, Bobby, Martin, Gandhi, my mom and so many others in the past and now. The role I play is small, but that's OK, because it's all of us playing our small roles, working together, tiring at times, but never giving up, passing it on to the next generation, that matters.

It matters because all workers should be treated with dignity, all people should be equal, there should be no discrimination, people should have the right to a living wage, and affordable, accessible quality, healthcare and education,. No one should go hungry and no one should become rich at the expense of another.

These are the lessons my mom has taught me, not so much in words, as in action, including the simple action of not buying grapes and teaching her children they are part of the human family, and when one of their human brothers and sisters suffer, so do we.
Sí, se puede, mom.

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