The Love of an Aunt: Call me “Ellie”

  • 2

The Love of an Aunt: Call me “Ellie”

My Beautiful Aunt Gilda died on her birthday, yesterday at 2:00 PM. She passed with amazing grace, and my perimagesonal loss is deep. You see, my Aunt was a caring mother to me in every way. I was blessed to have her as a role model, a mentor, a confidante and a source of unconditional love.

Aunts have the power to play that kind of role in the lives of their nieces and nephews. They have the power to fill what otherwise might have been an empty space, a void, in the life of a child. My Auntie stepped up to that fill that space for me and I am all the better for it. She’s wearing the captain’s hat in the picture; she would guide me through a lot of stormy weather and she never abandoned ship.

Perhaps the most beautiful gift my aunt bestowed upon my was my name. My birth name is Elena, but it was my Aunt always who always endearingly called me “Ellie”. When I turned 18, she took me with her, my Uncle and my cousin on a trip to Italy. She just about let me run wild there. It was a life transforming trip and I returned back to the states as “Ellie” forevermore.

Thank you Aunt Gilda for my name, for being My Captain and for the gift of your love. I will feel for you in the space around me. I know you are right there. RIP

 


  • 3

The Bystander Effect

I just read a book that described the research behind the Bystander Effect. It is a disturbing phenomenon, indeed, and it has been empirically proven in many studies. The misconception most of us hold is that when someone has been hurt, witnesses will rush to their aid. The sad truth is the more people who witness a person in distress, the less likely it is that any one person within the group of witnesses will help.

The line of thinking in the Bystander Effect is that if one person , alone, sees someone in  trouble, he or she will feel compelled to help. If three or more people are witnessing someone in trouble, each supposes someone else in the group will help and so the individual abdicates his or her personal responsibility to step in. According to David McRaney, author of You are Not So Smart, the Bystander Effect has cost plenty of victims either their physical and/or emotional well-being. In many cases, by-standing has caused victims their lives, while others looked on.

I can personally relate to the Bystander Effect. When I was traveling in Florence, Italy, I was unaccustomed to the uneven cobblestone walkways. Upon exiting my hotel, I tripped just outside the entrance and went down sprawling onto the sidewalk. I hurt my knee and could not immediately get up. The number of pedestrians who literally climbed over me was astounding. Scores of them. Not one person offered help. I don’t remember what hurt worse: the injury to my knee or the shame of being ignored via apathy. I think the latter. Gosh. How do some people sleep at night?

I believe that the Bystander Effect needs to be considered as seriously as leaving the scene of an accident or leaving the scene of a crime. If it was our civic and legal responsibility to help someone in need, perhaps there would be less bullying, less domestic abuse, less hate crimes, less assaults, fewer injuries and fewer victims. Why do you think people abuse or bully other people? …because they can!

I have decided that by-standing someone in distress is officially not part of my behavioral repertoire. If I see someone being mistreated or in danger, I want to act in some way to be of aid to the victim. In my opinion, not only is it the moral choice; it is my honor to be of service to another who may be in distress. Give it some thought. What stand do you take?


  • 0

The Gender Revolution

We are in the midst of a powerful sociocultural shift: a Gender Revolution. No longer can we ascribe the same old traits for purposes of defining gender. Historically, our sex was the first thing noted about us and then our early personalities were expected to conform in some predetermined framework to our gender. If we were girls, we were socialized to be “feminine”. If we were boys, we were socialized to be “masculine”.

Many of us suffered in our development simply because, and for a myriad of reasons, we did not fall into any one assumed gender-category. Guess what? We are now encased in a Gender Revolution which demands a redefinition and recognition of what makes a person male or female. And guess what? One is no longer easily distinguishable from the other!

A stay-at-home dad? Households where Mom and Dad ebb and flow between parenting and working roles? Male nurses? A high-powered female CEO who doesn’t want to marry or have children? Society has taken huge leaps since the June Cleaver days. It’s a good time to take a look at and redefine shifting views of men and women’s place in the world.

Attitudes towards gender roles are more varied than ever. Nearly every school of thought, whether it’s business, theology, sociology, marketing, psychology, or family studies, has its view of where men and women “belong” and naturally, these views are not without controversy. The Web is rich with sites that bring to mind an ongoing tug-of-war of “he said, she said”. However, one observation is clear: in today’s world there is way more to gender roles than trite, stereotypical archetypes.

While most of us can agree that change takes time, we have seen gender roles evolve in leaps and bounds. Many people are positively transforming with the idea of being taken care of by a male nurse; they are seeing the value in having their sons play with dolls and they are championing their daughters to become firefighters or serve in the military. There continues to be an ever-strengthening movement where the boundaries between the masculine and feminine are becoming more fluid and easily transmuted.

As far as gender is concerned, it is no longer a case of the tail wagging the dog. We are increasingly less pressured to have to engage in self-limiting activities to prove our gender. I, for one, am relieved and excited about the possibilities for women and men alike.