It was a woman – a poet – I studied in college as an English major at Belhaven University – who first referenced success being sweetest to those who didn’t succeed. I’ll supplement with this, whether it was in a personal relationship, in a sports competition or a business endeavor…doesn’t matter. It still stings and makes us want to counter-attack or jab back at that person. Our instinct says triumph over those who did wrong by us or to those we love and protect, or took a victory we believed to be ours.
Emily Dickinson doesn’t actually use the word revenge, but hints at it with words and phrases such as took the Flag, victory, distant strains of triumph, and agonized, suggesting an intense struggle or even war. Diehard golfers can relate to these words and thoughts about defeat and the satisfaction of winning the next round. They also know that the ugly desires of revenge don’t make for the best clarity during competition, and tournament winners don’t tell the crowd that wanting revenge is what helped them succeed that day.
What can I say?
You know if you’ve read my articles or pleadings that I am at war with those who would do harm to children, including my own, because it’s profitable for those who exploit and do wrong. Agony is assured for those targeted by the wrong-doers. Causing agony for innocent people because of greed and a lack of humanity is a terrible thing. Causing agony for children? Let’s talk off-line about that. But the messaging against those I refer to as bad actors, is – on its face – not in line with what children need to see and hear. And so goes the need for this post, as a qualifier or preface to my work. It’s also an admission that I struggle with work-life balance.
To our children
Should you stumble across this as adults, my wish for you all is that the messaging of this mission softens your hearts, opens your minds but does not cause you any worry. Empathy is good, but fear should be given to God, shared with a counselor you trust, and left behind you. Allow the good in this mission to resonate for you as you come across others in life struggling with something that may not be apparent from a distance or publicly.
For so many years I’ve worked tirelessly, and for the most part without interference, to insulate my own children from the stress I feel from another’s angry need for control, desire to demean and destabilize. I do not want them to know the truth of this battle. They have learned on the positive side, however, that other parents and children need an advocate who really understands the situation they’re in, and a confident, calm voice because what they are experiencing is, let’s say, unhealthy at best. It is draining work on the personal front and professionally. It doesn’t pay well, either, but higher pay is not what drives those of us involved in advocacy work to improve society and systems. Regardless of pay, title or recognition, it is still important & rewarding work.
It is the morning of my twins 16th birthday and I do not know how they are doing or where they are; that information is being kept from me and it feels terrible. I say this not because I need your sympathy or because I am seeking vengeance against those causing this pain, distress and uncertainty, but because this is what thousands of parents like me across the country – and world – are experiencing. For the most part it is a silent suffering, an epidemic without a diagnosis, but I promise you it is real – and devastating. It is an infliction that harms children, which is easily understood by reading the language in a piece of legislation before the Florida legislators. Thank God someone of influence recognized the pathology and lasting damages to children to influence legislators to include these facts in a bill. Thank you, Florida doctors, advocates and policymakers. Whether the bill is passed and enacted this year or not, it is crucial to press forward as this recognition, or mandate for certified counselors, can save lives.
It is not unlike the kind of suffering, in a much different way of course, by parents torn from their children by Natzi Germany and by modern-day traffickers of children or the keepers of the global slave trade. Regardless of country or time-period or nationality, the impact is the same. It is ugly – and caused by ill-intentioned people motivated by hate and greed. The image above of what could be a holding place designated for isolating parents away from children should evoke harsh emotions in you, including a desire to do something to the controllers breaking the bonds between those parents and their children.
This is not the article I wanted to write on the weekend of my beloved twins’ 16th birthday. Even with this prolonged and deep pain, I am not seeking revenge. Justice would be great, yes. But revenge belongs to God.
Call to action:
For our children to rise above conflict and heal beyond their circumstances, they need our leadership. They need an example that doesn’t keep them mired in suspicion, doubt or threat. Be successful for the sake of leading our children and the children of others who, for the moment, are unable to be that example.
Thank you for reading and for lending your support to those around you,
Poem about Success being Sweet
Success is counted sweetest By those who ne'er succeed. To comprehend a nectar Requires sorest need. Not one of all the purple Host Who took the Flag today Can tell the definition So clear of victory As he defeated – dying – On whose forbidden ear The distant strains of triumph Burst agonized and clear!
Reprinted by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from THE POEMS OF EMILY DICKINSON: READING EDITION, edited by Ralph W. Franklin, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1998, 1999 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Source: The Poems of Emily Dickinson Edited by R. W. Franklin (Harvard University Press, 1999)