...the man in this photo taught me how and when to use mine. My parents instilled in my siblings and I our moral values, our knowledge of right and wrong, and they helped us develop our policy views - never forcing us to believe anything, merely showing us the options and telling us their own views. We were taught facts were key to establish and share our beliefs. I had always been outspoken in regards to my views, and I never had a problem telling people what I thought, whether it be at school, protesting on a street corner, etc. But one place I did have a problem discussing my beliefs to any extent was my music career. I had been taught that politics or social issues and music shouldn't mix. However as time went on and our country became and still becomes more bitterly divided than I've ever seen it in my 19 years of life I began to understand that maybe it was necessary that I speak my mind.
As Patrick Henry said, “Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason toward my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.”
The fellow in this photograph is Malcolm McGough - Australian by birth, though he moved to the US some years back. He told me he did so on a promise made to God. He demonstrated the type of character, American patriotism, and passion I wished I could find in all of my natural-born American brethren. He was more of a true American than 99% of all Americans I know. Ever since I was a little girl I had looked up to heroes in old history books, you know the types - Patrick Henry, John Adams, George Washington, Sir Winston Churchill, Lawrence of Arabia, etc. etc. etc. To my disappointment though, I could find none of these people in 'real life'. I had begun to think such people were extinct. I was happily proven wrong in the case of Mr. McGough. I found a 'real life' Founding Father type... sure he had a funny accent that smacked of Vegemite and the land down under, but hey - beggars can't be choosers ! It was as if American Founder Samuel Adams had come back from the dead and decided to make himself right at home stirring the waters of injustice once again. He came to Wisconsin in mid-March of 2016 and stayed through the beginning of April 2016. He did get me one of the biggest gigs in my entire life, but more importantly ~ In the nearly three weeks that I spent working side by side with that old buzzard I learned many things - first of all and the reason for this blog entry - I learned to believe. I've always been rather pessimistic - even when I believed in a cause or something I hoped to happen in the future I could never truly believe in it or give it my all as I'd seen so many defeats under that cause's name I figured the fight was pointless. In him, I saw and still see another parental figure. I was absolutely devastated when he left Wisconsin - okay, to be honest I cried a lot and for days on end - and for the better part of two months I couldn't figure out why he had affected me so much. I'd sit in school for hours pondering all of the things he told me and running memories through my head trying to figure out what he did or said differently that made such an impact on me. I'd pester him online every once-in-a-while asking him how he was, or asking him if he truly believed that we could achieve victory. He repeated the same line to me over and over again. He said, "Be bold and believe young lady."
I asked the old Koala with the receding hairline why he was so passionate for his cause, I asked him why he fought so damn hard - that I'd never seen that kind of attitude before - and he said, "I do it for a selfish reason Anastasia. As goes America so goes the world. And if America goes over so too my country. And my grandkids won't have a life." Obviously he was wrong in one sense, this reason is not selfish at all, but if every person in our country and others based their entire existence upon making the lives of future generations better as he has tried to do, we would all be better off.
It was the night of my high school graduation that I realized why he had affected and seemingly changed my thoughts for the future so much, and in truth it was quite simple - he let me believe.
He was only ever encouraging, he never said our fights were impossible as others had previously told me. He told me with God we could do anything. Through my life I'd met many people that simply talked a good talk - whether over coffee or beer - they said that they would someday help change the world, they said that they would stand up and fight if necessary, but when the time came for them to actually stand up and speak their minds in the face of this danger they claimed to oppose - they generally sat back down or silently submitted. Malcolm was different though - which is naturally why I went to him seeking advice.
His words, his deeds whether I watched him and listened to him speak in person or whether I followed his journey cross-country online - inspired me. And yet, his words also made me feel guilty. I'd look at myself in the mirror and I'd see that which I claimed to be against - in a way a hypocrite. I was almost lying to myself or at least about myself in order to 'survive'. When rallying people for a cause in person I'd tell them that they should always speak their minds and stand up for their beliefs regardless of the cost - as that is the only way any change is ever made. Yet as a singer I couldn't bring myself to do this - for example online with my supporters. I wanted to speak my mind not to force others to agree with me, but to show my truths, what I believed in, so maybe people would accept me for who I was, and perhaps sway a few people into either agreeing with me or shaking hands, accepting our differences and continuing with our friendships. I wanted to speak, but I knew I would lose major support which I could not really afford to lose.
So - I worked up the intestinal fortitude to send Malcolm a very... very long e-mail asking for his advice. He took a look at it and told me it would take some time, but he would give me a very thoughtful response.
The most applicable part of his response to this blog post was this, "You should always be ‘true’ to yourself. It is the one thing you can control and nobody, and I mean nobody can control this. ONLY YOU! ... You should never lie to yourself - ever. It is your truth to own and to be transparent in what you believe. It is also to present and to defend."
In regards to God's timing in all of this and the bad things that happen in our lives as a whole he told me, "To know His word is to know His will. And if you know His will you will know what to pray for. Maybe then you will get the answers He wants you to have. And then, you may be presented with the doors He wants you to go through. And this will come from spending time in quiet prayer, alone, where He can talk to you. And He does talk to us Anastasia, in His quiet touching of our heart, in the people he brings across our paths, in the doors that are locked, and in the trying circumstances He allows us to experience. Sometimes it is during these trying circumstances that He does his best work. Why, because He has our full attention and believe me, I have been in these trying circumstances."
Lord knows I wish I could talk to him more, but he's off working for what will hopefully be a better future for all of us and that is far more important than keeping tabs with a teenager. It's because of this fellow that now, I genuinely believe. Will I lose supporters? I have no doubt I will, but in the end I would rather succeed or fail while being true to myself. I also think that in the end I'd rather stand up for what I believe in, but in ALL cases, not only some - Not only when it's easy to do so. If this man, could affect every kid in this country and others 1% of the way he has helped me, this kangaroo could easily change the world singlehandedly.
You know in those old biographies that you read about our Founders, etc. - you know how they mention mentors that shaped these character's personalities, beliefs, and futures? Yeah, well I have to say, Malcolm - whether planned "on High" or by some stroke of luck - happened to land in Wisconsin and he became my mentor. And I can't thank the old wombat enough for it.
Ya'll keep an eye on this guy, because he is going to end up in the history books - and then some !