Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Time Travel

So, in addition to lots of applying for jobs, being unemployed has given me time to watch Doctor Who. I'm really getting into the show. I just watched "Beware the Weeping Angel" and it has given me some study questions to ponder while I clean the house. 1. If I could go back in time, what would I tell myself? Would I tell myself to do anything differently? 2. In the future, what kind of life do I want to have lived so I have a story to tell? 3. What kind of a world do I want to live in, in the future, and what should I do now to make that world a reality? The other interesting thing I have been thinking about from watching the show is how differently people of African descent's experience is in other countries. I'm sure racism exists in the London of the future. It is because of America's history that people of color have a different experience. I hope the work I do helps peoples in our country have a more positive future. For example, on Doctor Who, I didn't see the same segregation and I see on TV here. We know that after the Civil War, there was a migration to the North from former slaves, and still today we have high concentration of minorities in neighborhoods. Although not always, these neighborhoods also house a concentration of people living in poverty. This is not portrayed on the show, even when the 2 part episode was about the 1930s New York City. People of African descent are regularly shown as leaders and heroes. I love this. It doesn't recognize the experience of African-Americans. I love that they are just people who don't have any extra challenges because of history and are accepted as equals without question. I wish that were reality, but it hasn't been in the places I have lived. Time travel is also no reality, which is what I'm writing to think through. To question number one, I don't know if I have any advice for my past self. Maybe I do. Last night my roommate and I were discussing women in STEM programs. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. I was looking through my old transcripts as part of reviewing myself for job applications. I can see where I was very good at math, and it wasn't until becoming a sophomore or junior in high school, I started spending my time on other things. I'm glad I studied art in college, but I wish I had been encouraged to be even better at math and science. I didn't go to Girl Scouts because I was encouraged to only do LDS church sponsored activities. I learned how to cross stitch, cook, do laundry, play music, and tend children. The church sponsored activities for young women didn't include science fairs, or even activities like go-cart racing. They were done, but they were only for the boys. I guess I would go back in time and ask my parents to encourage me to develop my STEM skills more, and to encourage me to take pride as a young woman who excelled in math. The other advice I would have for myself is to be more engaged in team activities. I loved to read, and was always very independent. I scored in the 90th percentile for language and reading on my ACTs. However, I feel like if I had been exposed to more group activities like sports, or engineering games, I would be better prepared to manage other people and not let their mistakes bother me. I do let others mistakes bother me when I shouldn't. I have to consciously plan on making sure to let other people fail by my standards but succeed at their own. If I did come back in time and talk to myself, I'd like to be able to let me know that the work I'm doing is making a difference. I would like the encouragement and historical context to know that what we did in politics in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont, and even in Idaho made a better world. It is hard to imagine what didn't happen. Negative talk is reserved for the future and about actions to prevent future outcomes, like regulating guns and not having thousands of gun-related deaths each year. I think as organizers we forget to celebrate our impact. Non-profit work, especially foundation work, spends significant time celebrating success and impact, but politics doesn't. In politics, we always have the next battle to attend to. If I could time travel, someday I hope I can come back and say, "You did the right thing, Diana. You did a good job." I'm not sure I'm closer to knowing just what kind of world I want to live in right now, but I'll dwell on it some more and get back to you.