In a world of injustice, nothing ever changes - until someone is tough enough to challenge the existing order. Most people find it's easier to look the other way. But there are always a few bold souls who simply can't. They're the ones who stand up, speak out, sit in, and generally refuse to shut up. Are you one of them?
The serving professions (teaching, social work, juvenile justice, community health, child life, etc.) are made up of people with inner fortitude - humble champions committed to changing the world, one person at a time.
It's all about patience, endurance, and teamwork. Most people aren't tough enough to stick with a struggling kid, vowel after vowel, word after word. But then, there are the stubborn few who don't know how the meaning of "quit." Who show up. Stay with it. And, in the end, who save a child's future.
Teachers, social workers, child life specialists
Youth advocates, change agents, solution catalysts Helpers,
some call us
But these are serving professions.
We learn, then serve, then learn.
We start by building strength
not muscle, but heart
By shaping and reshaping,
A Math lesson, a Science experiment, an English essay
We learn our pieces, then we re-teach them
Each person a student,
We are Tough Enough to learn to serve
And our ears must open wide.
A girl sits in a session silent
each scar from her past another stitch on her closed lips
We must be Patient Enough
to sit with her for two weeks in that silence.
To bite back the urge to question,
When the girl is ready, lips part hesitant,
She says, "When you've been hurt over and over so many times,
you just keep it all inside."
We must be Strong Enough
To hold up the box of tissues she will cry into.
Honest Enough to examine the privilege we may have lived with
that at 16 years old this girl may know more about the world than
we ever will. These are the lessons we learn
when we are Bold Enough to be quietConfident Enough to trust silence.
Tough Enough to work through it.
We take note
When a young girl thanks a student volunteer for never calling
her "stupid". When a boy nicknames a youth worker "big
When a grandmother seeks out an intern in order to
communicate her appreciation.
We enter these professions intentions aside
We become Bright Enough, Smart Enough, Resilient Enough Are
you Tough Enough?
Because these work days will not be easy
Riddled with the thin line between too much compassion and
keeping your cool You will combat comments of "It must be nice
to get the summers off"
And erase expectations that all we do is "take away children".
You will vanish the notion that paychecks
have anything to do with the caring you do.
Whatever your chosen profession, you have selected a lifelong
mission to Serve.
You must be Proud Enough, Humble Enough, Eager Enough
You will grow to be Confident Enough
To believe, that after weeks on end, the little girl who cannot lift
her own glass, will get there.
On your last day together, she will pour you a cup of milk
Smile with the beginnings of her first adult tooth.
You will be Tough Enough to be proud without falling to pieces as
your internship ends
As the cycle begins again.
We learn, then serve, then learn.
Lessons woven from textbook to classroom to counselor's office We sometimes hold secrets
Even hear of a problem without having the resources to fix it.
We are Wild Enough to believe we can change it.
To be advocate.
To be ears that listen before mouths that preach solution.
We are Tough Enough to face all of our own questions
to question ourselves.
Youth Advocates, Change Agents, Community leaders?
To begin any path in this serving profession
Are you Tough Enough?
Tough. Not mean, or rough, or aggressive but sturdy and
Able to listen.
And when others tell us we "save"
We are Wise Enough to know the difference.
© Lissa Piercy, 2014