Nothing says “girl power” like a table full of homemade desserts baked for a good cause.
Vegan baking and supporting causes of benefit are two of my biggest passions.
So yesterday, I spent my afternoon preparing vegan chocolate chip cookies, apricot and ginger muffins, chocolate peanut butter eggs, and banana bread to take to a bake sale for Planned Parenthood in Los Angeles in order to #BakeAmericaGreatAgain.
I was a little nervous because I know that even in Los Angeles, there’s always a possibility of trolls who will (not so respectfully) disagree with supporting the cause. But at the same time, I reminded myself that this is exactly why it needs to be done.
So early in the morning, I took my little vegan pastries, put on my women power shirt, and asked my husband to drop me off at the location I had been assigned, which was fortunately only a few blocks from home.
A trendy coffee and tea shop by morning and hip, prohibition-inspired bar by night had agreed to host, and so we set up our table on their beautiful porch.
Suzee, a sweet and fun-spirited woman, was our location leader. She was sporting a T-shirt reading “I (heart) pro-choice boys” that she tells me she’s had since she was 13 years old, and rocking purple lipstick and two buns on either side of her head. She hugged me in greeting, and then asked me to finish frosting some cupcakes while she and other girls built little boxes for our “customers” to take the desserts away in, made signs, and finished setting everything up.
After an hour or so, we were ready.
The morning started with four girls at the table, but throughout the day, more came and went. I don’t remember all of their names—I’m bad at that—but I remember their faces and their overall enthusiasm.
We got a lot of support from the people walking on Melrose Avenue, almost selling out of our pastries and no obnoxious trolls except for one guy who yelled at us, “I am Republican!”—which I just considered ignorant, as there are Republicans who support Planned Parenthood. So yeah, no trolls.
However, there were a lot of oblivious people. Many women and men would accelerate their pace when passing by us, not even looking or acknowledging our “It’s a donation for Planned Parenthood, you choose to give whatever you want” invitation.
These people were the majority. And they are the group that really makes my heart ache.
It makes me sad to see that so many people simply do not care because they are worried only about their immediate future. The rest of the world is a blur.
I think this is a problem that goes beyond the pro-choice or pro-life discussion and confrontation. There will always be two nearly irreconcilable sides of that issue. And like most things that matter, we need those two sides to keep us checked and balanced so we can move forward mindfully.
But when we just walk through life and don’t even look at those in need of help, or don’t even bother to learn what great programs (like Planned Parenthood) are doing, because we are too busy on our way to work out or are hanging with friends and it’s not “cool” to donate, there is even greater disconnect. In choosing to be a bystander, we don’t really stand on either side of the issue, and as a result, things will not move or change. We get stuck; we get us all stuck.
I see this ambivalent attitude in the way social media is handled: scroll, scroll, friends out, like, scroll, yoga rockstar, like, scroll, oh no, a dead kid in Palestine, scroll, puppy! Like, keep scrolling…
I know we can’t just sit down and cry for every death and injustice around the world. We cannot support every single cause, as we don’t even have the money for it. But when you are walking down the street, I invite you to stop every now and then to listen. Not everyone is asking for your credit card or a year commitment. Sometimes it’s nice to just hear what people are volunteering their time for, educating yourself about the cause in the process. And if it is in your possibilities, support—every cent helps.
The fight for Planned Parenthood is not only the fight of the female feminists who don’t want any children of their own. It’s also about feminist women and men of any age and sexual preference, parents or not, who are trying to become educated about sexual health and protect themselves through responsible, conscious, healthy, and ethical care.
I volunteer as a mother, because I think that’s how a happy parenthood begins.
We need a system that not only gives a choice regarding reproduction rights, but also provides education to our women and men. Abortion is something older than any religion; it has been performed with herbs since the beginning of time.
And if we really want to lower the rates of abortion (because accept it, once and for all: it will not disappear, but it can be regulated and performed in a safer way), then support education, support programs that help women know, respect, and love themselves and their bodies. Because self-love and care are prerequisites to loving another being, like your child.
But I digress—I do not want to focus on the abortion subject. I want to focus on the need for kindness, on the need for education, on the need for more people to stop and support these incredible organizations that are making a difference in people’s lives.
Let’s not leave them alone. Let’s keep fighting for their funding to be respected.
We are the people. We have a voice and a choice, so let’s us use it for something that matters.
We might be privileged and not need a program like Planned Parenthood, but trust me, life takes its turns. And even if it doesn’t, and we never need anything from a program like this, let’s try to pop our bubbles and recognize that the world is a big place. We need to work together to build a future in which people have better opportunities and quality of life.
Thank you to all of you who stopped yesterday, and every day, to support organizations that reach those in need.
Thank you to the wonderful people who volunteer for good causes in different ways.
You are all of benefit.
Helping others makes the soul shine and makes your heart lighter. And sometimes, like with #BakeAmericaGreatAgain, you may even walk away with a delicious homemade cookie.
Author: Montse Leon
Image: Author’s own; @explodingroses/Instagram
Editor: Callie Rushton
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