Friday, January 18, 2013

The elephant in the room

Apparently, it's been a while since I've been to the circus.  That's one reason why when a friend offered discounted tickets, I decided to take her up on the offer.  So, last night I, along with my youngest daughter and one of her friends, arrived excited about what was in store.  We found available street parking (i considered avoiding the $10 parking fee a huge success!), and walked toward the arena.  Everything was going smoothly, and it was looking like a great night of fun.

If only it were  not for those darn animal rights activists that greeted me outside of the arena, it may have been a spectacular evening.  I mean, why had I not remembered all of the news headlines I had seen several years ago uncovering the mistreatment of circus animals?!  True or not, I felt a churning in my stomach that I could be supporting this abuse.  All that kept scrolling through my mind were images of Dumbo and her mother...

This was the first of several signs that let me know right away I was in the wrong place.  As we entered the arena, there was booth after booth lined up to sell over-priced souvenirs. People were already purchasing stuffed animals and fluorescent mow-hawks before the show even started.  Me and my we-can-go-as-long-as-you-know-we-are-not-buying-any-junk self had a hard time smiling when my daughter turned to me and said, "thank you so much for bringing me to the circus, mom."  I wanted to say, Sure, honey.  Maybe next time, we'll go watch some pigs get slaughtered.  I was not sure that was appropriate to say to my 9 year-old, so I smiled back and said, "You're welcome."

As the night went on, I tried my best to go along with the excitement, but it was not easy.  The now old-fashioned circus is clearly extinct.  The juggling clowns have been replaced by motorcycle riding, hip-hop dancing newer models.  The elephants, tigers, rabbits and poodles did their synchronized moves, but they looked unnatural and a bit over-tamed.

It was not until this morning that I realized what made me the most uneasy about this experience.  It was the elephant in the room.  Not just the living, breathing ones, but the one pounding on my head and heart.  The elephants of greed, of misuse of power, of injustice and oppression.  And, there I was quietly playing my part.

There's no need to sit around today and wallow in my guilt about taking my child to the circus.  I know there are much bigger things to get worked up about.  In fact, this isn't about the circus at all.

It's about all the times I go with the flow instead of asking the tough questions.
It's about all the ways I perpetuate injustice because it's not convenient to do anything new or different.
It's about all the instances when I refuse to be intentional in how I spend my time, my money and my resources in ways that matter.

I guess that's the elephant that needs my attention on this Friday.

What elephant needs yours?

1 comment:

  1. Well, I think it's hard to be intentional about every single thing we attend. One of my friends advise that if it's not making you money, it's not worth your time; referring to my consultancy. We'd go insane if we analyzed every event, every action. I think you seized the opportunity for what it was, an opportunity to spend time with your child who doesn't need to be aware of every misgiving in the world. I am trying to come to terms with taking my child to the circus. For the experience. Not because I'm condoning any of the other things.

    My husband and I, however, are both afraid of clowns.

    Keep on being awesome.