Supporting the Front Lines

Tonight I got to take some direct action in the service of protecting the privacy of the people who I serve. We were all at the meet & greet before an open space that’s I’m facilitating tomorrow, a time for people to learn together about how to have stronger, more communicative, and more intimate and trusting relationships.

And someone was in the parking lot, videotaping license plates.

That’s not the most egregious breach of privacy ever, of course. While the person was on private property, these were cars that were easily visible from the street. Still, while there may have been little legal reason not to record the license plates, there certainly was a moral breach of privacy going on. To quote a recent movie about privacy, It’s not that I have anything to hide. I just don’t have anything I want to show you.

My part was simply to do my best to be right in front of the camera, to be recording the person who was recording, and and also to simply continually question Why are you doing this? What reason do you have to be on private property recording people’s license plates without their permission?

The person eventually left, without any physical altercation. And while I am not happy that it happened, there’s a small bit of satisfaction that when my clients’ privacy was threatened, I literally did my best to shield them.

But you don’t always get to be that direct.

The Heroes of the Bench

Recently my partner and I were contacted as possible transport to help bring a child, separated from parents at the border by the recent policies of ICE, to a Chicago court hearing. As it turned out, they found alternative transportation, so we didn’t go. But the attorney involved sent me a note, which I’m going to paraphrase because, in case you missed the first half of this post, privacy.

Your writing helps remind me that in order to keep doing the work my clients need me to do, self-care and family-care have to come first. This blog helps ground me. I didn’t do that much my first year of practice, and that’s part of why many people who do this kind of work burn out and quit. Every day I am mindful of how I can take care of myself and continue to work effectively for the people who need me.

That person is literally fighting the good fight. There are few jobs more noble or essential beyond reuniting a child with their parents. We write stories about this all the time, make movies, thrill to the idea. I think that both my partner and I were a little disappointed that we didn’t get to drive the child to Chicago, because then we would have been part of this story.

But then the attorney gave me the gift of letting me know: I am a part of the story. Not directly – but that’s ok. In fact, that’s better, because it’s centering people like me that got us into this mess to begin with. To know that I can be a support for the kind of person who does this work – that is an honor beyond just about any I can think of.

And it’s much more satisfying than having to dodge in front of a camera from a person trying to invade others’ privacy.

Which is why I’m back, and while I’m late, I’m on schedule to write this blog three times a week. I hope, in some way, it helps you get through the tough times as well.

Thank you, dear reader, for being here.

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