I cannot remember a time when I was not in show business. As a youngster, I did commercials in New York City, I experienced the rarefied air of Professional Children's School, where professional showbiz kids, ballet dancers, singers, actors and musicians could work during the day, and still get their college-preparatory education. Later, the High School of Performing Arts (which the movie and TV show Fame were fashioned after), where I majored in drama, after attending public elementary and junior high schools on Long Island, the major part of normalcy I was to experience in my younger schooldays.
Show business has afforded me the blessing of traveling the world. As a teenager, I saw Italy, Germany, France, England, Scandinavia, Japan, most of South America and almost every city large or small in America. My spirit of revolution was born in the sixties, to the wild guitar strains of Jimi Hendrix, while traveling the world with Ray Charles. My rebellious cry was hewn from reading everything from Malcolm X's biography to Jack Kerouacs' road-traveler counter-culture adventures. I met people everywhere, and picked up on world culture. I found my worldview; I began to see through the eyes of the world. Even though I will always be at heart an American woman, I became a sister to the world at large and began to see the connective thread that unites all of us as a universal race: the human race, as a necessity of my spirit. From Brazil to Paris, I learned the differences and similarities of so many cultures and I grew into a woman honed by the women's movement.
I believe women's issues are important still, though in my mind, there is no longer an in-your-face women's movement, per se, but I think most of us know things will never be the same since the introduction of the birth-control pill. While living in England, I became involved in a marvelous English women's book collective. We read books that promoted equality: non sexist, multicultural, multi-language children's books, covering most pertinent subjects, called Letterbox Library. They had a profound effect on me, showing me how women of differing backgrounds could truly and heartily share their views, and affect the source of education at the grassroots level. These scholars, mothers, teachers, English, Irish, Jewish, Jamaican, with different upbringings, made me face what the world is with such a broad perspective, through children's books for all ages. We read baby books to older teenage books. They were sold to schools, and to individuals. They continue their work today and are a great and far-reaching influence in English modern education.
My view of women around the world changed at that time, making me realize how important the woman's voice is as nurturer, educator, and planner of the future. But it was my own mother who said to me, "You can do anything you choose, be anything you want, reach the stars and learn infinitely." The grace to accept all people, to share the knowledge of my talent and experience, came from her. She taught me to know the power of my thoughts and that they are mine to wield as powerful actions.
When I met Bryant McGill, it was as if we had always known each other. Being able to see the effect he has on others with his words opened my eyes to a new way of looking at words and actions. I have seen him go through a great personal change on many levels, but his words continue to ring with such commanding truth, that it is impossible to ignore the strength and wisdom coming through him.
His "Voice of Reason" is a bell ringing to the sound of silent screaming: a wake-up call to a generation crying out for help. Without this kind of hue and cry, we may simply erase ourselves out of existence. The rare man who sees with extreme clarity, and peels back the layers of humanity for us to see clearly, is more than a welcome blessing during these extraordinary times. Bryant McGill is such a man.
Few have such a daring and bold sense of destiny, and only a few times in our lives are events lined up consciously, to show us what the possibilities of our goodness can be. In these treacherous times, where the fruits of caring are callously cast aside, we ask ourselves, "How can we survive? How can we remain human, let alone optimistic about our future? How can we retain the sweetness of our souls and the innocence of our childhoods?" And especially, "How can we achieve our dreams of peace in the futures of our children?"
The brave spirit of compassion lies just underneath the surface in each of us. Yet, our harsh reality strives to wrest that purity from us. I cannot imagine a more exciting time to live in — a time when our technology exceeds our expectations, and infinite choice lies at our fingertips.
We are told to embrace darkness at every turn, as the "new cool." Vampires, zombies and other nebulous creatures have seduced their way into our popular culture. Long gone are the days of manners and comportment. The internet has created a hotbed foundation of public opinion, with sometimes vile results — people hide behind false screen names to assume characters who thrive without grace, charm or manners. Bullying has taken on a new level of cruelty; people say anything they like, whether nasty, hurtful, or simply negative. It's every man for himself, full steam ahead, damn the torpedoes, my world, my opinion, me, me, me.
The ashes of our gentle caring are obliterated for the sake of any evil popularity. What is left is a hefty bitterness against our fellow man and our worldwide situation.
The simple act of listening is the beginning of change in our lives and the lives of those who have shared in the legacy of disenfranchisement of the spirit, because that act opens the heart to hopeful change.
Reaching out to our fellow human beings takes many forms, but clueing-in to the need and the right to be heard is most important, because it takes us out of ourselves and into the essence of others. Which child does not need to be heard? Which man or woman does not need to be understood by others? We share the same feelings when we break it down; we all want the same things out of life: we want to be loved, we want to be safe and happy, cared for, cared about, listened to and understood, we want to be free to choose our lifestyles, whom we love. We all want to be educated, and work through our lives with passion and elemental success.
We cannot achieve these things without the simple confidence that comes from living our lives fully aware of others' needs. We think we stand alone, and many of us have been fooled into thinking we can succeed alone, in our selfish cultures. When we take away the trappings of status and competition, we are left with our simplicity; a race of human beings.
"Voice of Reason" determines and clarifies the goals of humanity, and helps us recognize the way forward. We can do anything we choose with our lives. The consequences of not choosing correctly are enormous.
-Susaye Greene, Artist, Activist and former Singer from the Motown Sensation, "The Supremes" Singer and Songwriter for Stevie Wonder and the late Michael Jackson and Ray Charles