Monday, November 9, 2015

Woman Lawyer

Recently I was talking with an acquaintance about the problems in Hagerstown, namely how little the county commissioners and city council care about any part of Hagerstown outside a one-block radius from the square. This acquaintance is an older woman - I'd guess in her 60's or 70's - and is very outspoken. She's extremely socially progressive and is constantly going on (and on and on) about how much our country has let down the poor, the minorities, etc. She comes across a bit like a frustrated hippie.

The conversation twisted and turned, as conversations are wont to do, and eventually came to my husband's and my plans to move to Baltimore soon so I can go to law school*. I jokingly made a comment along the lines of, "Maybe if I'm a lawyer, the city council will pay attention to what I have to say." To which my acquaintance sadly replied:

"Yeah, but you'll be a woman lawyer."

My initial reaction (which I now regret not voicing at the time) was, "No shit. I'm not gonna get a sex change, so yeah, I guess I will be a woman lawyer." What I actually said was, "That's all the more reason I have to be a badass."

I recognize that her sentiment is not unfounded. Washington County still very much operates on what one of my teachers calls "a good ol' boy system." But that defeatist attitude coming from this woman? I'm not going to say I was shocked, but I was certainly taken aback.

I have interacted with this woman a few times since she made that comment, and it has since dawned on me that defeatism has been her attitude all along. She rails against the government and society, but she doesn't honestly think that anything is going to change. Which is especially strange considering how much has changed for the better in her lifetime. No, it's not "perfect" yet, but damn. It's not like the civil rights movement never made it to Hagerstown.

She has the same problem I've seen in many of my own generation - she expects positive change to happen RIGHT NOW, as she's yelling about it, and when things inevitably don't change immediately, she feels let down and frustrated. When has society ever changed that quickly?

Societal change, and government change, takes time. Advocating for change takes patience as well as persistence. When you're feeling exhausted and like you haven't gotten anywhere, just take a break, step back and admire how far you've come.

* Yes, yes, I know.

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