**LJ Idol Season 4 Week 11 Entry: I Fought the Law**
But sirs, I vow and tell you right
I stand within the purest light,
Of clear intent and godliness,
You must believe I’m innocent!
I’ve mixed them herbs to heal their woe,
I’ve cured their ills and God does know
Delivered babies strong and good
They call me “Goody” Sherwood!
–Coyote Run “The Ballad of Grace Sherwood”
Virginia has the dubious honour of being one of the states that tried women for witchcraft. Grace Sherwood was a threat being not only intelligent but strong of will. As a midwife, she tended to women in their time of need and there were many superstitious beliefs surrounding such things. All of this along with also knowing the various uses of herbs in natural remedies brought the eye of suspicion toward her in a time where you simply did not want to rock the boat in the waters of societal normalcy.
For years, accusations flew against her calling her “Witch! Witch!” The leaders did not want to try her, but in the end bowed to the outcry and tested her in the old fashioned method of ducking. Water, being pure, would not allow a witch to sink! Into the bay went Grace Sherwood, and unlike many of the time she was a strong swimmer. This proved her guilt and she spent the next eight years in prison before finally someone released her. She went along her way, returning to her home, and lived to the ripe age of 80.
In those times, it did not take much for an accusation of witchcraft to land on your head. People feared that which they did not know or understand. For women, if you did not follow the traditional paths of marriage, motherhood, and listening to your man… you too could be tried for witchcraft.
Along with women accused of witchcraft for little more than being “different”, Virginia has other fine examples of those that bucked the system. My own family history includes men you might know of. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson might be known as heroes and “founding fathers” to us, but to the British these men were rabble rousers flouting the law and stirring up trouble.
Declaration of Independence? Just who did these people think they were? Who were they to say laws were unjust? That they deserved more rights? That things needed to change?
Not only do I have ties in my family history, I have ties in my own life to those that bucked the system in modern day. This summer I found myself with the honour of working with Ms. Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek fame. The first “woman of colour” to play an important role on network television, in a show not made of a cast of “her people”. A true visionary, Gene Roddenberry scoffed at the segregation rampant in his nation and had no trouble mixing up the races on his new television show. Not only did he place in an entirely Caucasian cast, her character held a position in the command structure.
After a year on the show, Ms. Nichols planned to spread her wings and fly after her passion, stage acting and singing. A brief conversation, an edict of sorts, from the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr changed her plans. Perhaps you have heard of him?
I respect those that fight against the injustice rife in our system. I have ties historically and personally with such people. However, I have not done anything myself to bring the long arm of the law anywhere near my person.
Growing up in the greater DC area, you become used to many different things. Speaking out for causes near to your heart is one. Joining in, I walk for causes such as Pediatric Cancer and Autism. Having friends in every alphabet organization is another norm in this area. My school housed children of diplomats, congressmen, and senators. My own father held security clearance because of his job at the nuclear power plant.
In this area security clearance is the golden meal ticket. Sure, you can survive without it. Having it, though, makes life a lot easier. Never having much inclination for finding myself on my neighbours radar for more than possibly riding my bike on their driveway, best stories I have for readers is a dinner or a ride to school from a police officer or FBI agent.
While my record might be clean, that does not mean I fall into the lines of societal norms. I stand apart from most every crowd, and am fine with that. I bring flavour to the lives of those that know me.
As a Christian, I study heavily the doctrine found within the Bible. You do not want to know the questions I asked of the nuns at school. Needless to say, they were not surprised when I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Yes, I’m Mormon, and that definitely is not normal in the Christian world, outside of perhaps Utah and Idaho. Many Christians would argue (and have) that this one fact means I am in league with the devil. Grace Sherwood, save me a seat in your cell.
As a mother I did not stand idly by and shuttle my kids off to the state schools. Even when I tried, at the request of my cancer riddled child, I became very actively involved. PTO, volunteering for teachers in the school in the various grades (I did not limit myself to only my children’s teachers), and heavily supplementing my children’s education to fill in the gaping holes of public school were my life for several years.
In the local PTA at their last school, I took a stand that caused me a year that is indescribable. At the time I refused to blog about it, because the experience was so negative and problematic. The PTA did not put children first, and I railed against that. Isn’t that what the PTA is for? More importantly, the board members wanted me time and time again to do things that were not just slightly illegal but blatantly against the laws of the land and the PTA Charter. My refusal to do such things did not go over lightly. The principal of the school came down on me and I in turn went higher up in the PTA organziation do our district and state level. After months of this, at an illegally called meeting that I was unable to attend, I was “voted off the island” so to speak. Just two months from the end of the year, I was ordered to release everything in my possession over to the PTA via a letter in the school mailbox. These people could not give me the honour of phoning me or saying this to my face. My response? Laughter. Pretty sad, right?
Now I homeschool, which definitely falls into the realm of “going against the grain”. To make matters worse, I do not feel like I really fall in the world of secular or religious homeschooling. I believe that religions formed the cultures of the world today, and want my children to learn such things. Greek mythology to the pagan gods of Europe to the Muslims, we cover it all. I do not cut out the persecution of religions in the United States. I give my children a lesson on the true nature of the aforementioned witch hunts. I do not shy away from using The Bible in my education as I believe it to be a work of truth and I want my children to learn how to receive the exaltation promised. At the same time, I do not homeschool my children to make them what the world thinks of religious homeschoolers. We are not trying to limit their world view, we are not trying to make a stand against Darwinism (which I feel is misunderstood and misued today), we are not trying to teach our children it is the Christian way or the highway. I feel very strongly there is no reason why I cannot teach science as well as God. There is absolutely no reason why it has to be a war between the two. I allow for my children to learn how the two actually works together.
So I belong to email lists for the non-Christian homeschoolers and have to listen to their rants on Christianity and the fact that life is so unfair to those who teach secular based matters because they have to go through and edit extensively most of the resources they have to use. I belong to Christian groups and have to hear how science is evil and our planet is only 6 thousand years old and anyone who thinks otherwise is going to rot. On and on, the arguments go and I honestly do not feel a part of either side. (I mean honestly, old earth vs new earth, how does this affect my life? It does not. Nor is their any real proof that either is true or false. The Bible certainly does not specify a fact.)
I’m just a girl geek, while more common than people think, which is not normal. I do not go into the whole fashion world and I do not wear makeup . I refuse to grow up by playing dress up and competing in my costumes. Who says costumes are just for Halloween? Not me! I hold that both the political parties in our nations are horrible and refuse to claim one for myself unless forced to by our primary system. I homeschool my kids but do not hold that public education is evil or an abomination. In fact, I think that it is good we have it and that it does do good for a great many people. I am headstrong, stubborn, and when I get my teeth into something you better believe they are staying there. I will debate any topic just to be a punk, I do not care if I believe in it or not. I enjoy a good conversation.
There’s only one thing that I know how to do well
And I’ve often be told that you can only do
What you know how to do well
And that’s be you
Be what you’re like
Be like yourself
-They Might be Giants “Whistling in the Dark”
I am who I am. I am fine with not falling into the confines of any group. I enjoy marching to the beat of my own drummer. In a time now past, I would probably be called a witch. And something inside of me thinks that is cool. I have certainly been called worst things in the past.
After all, it is those of us that walk the road less travelled that make life interesting.
Many thanks for the topic of this essay to LJ-Idol for “I fought the law”. I want to also thank and promote one of my favourite bands, Coyote Run. The Ballad of Grace Sherwood is a fabulous song and you should check out the band. It is what finally inspired my entry! They are on youtube and myspace. I also want to thank They Might be Giants, because they are just an awesome band. ‘Nuff said. If you ain’t listening, you need to!