Would you like to be Queen for a Day?!” the show host called out to the audience of women. It was the start of reality TV in America. Each day our small black and white television was tuned in to see which of the four contestants had the most compelling story of hardship. She who garnered the greatest applause won. She was crowned, wrapped in a fur trimmed robe, and handed a bouquet of roses.
Mom, along with millions, was a regular viewer of Queen for a Day. With an eighth-grade education, eight children, and an often-unemployed alcoholic husband, she might have been a contender herself. She’d have been delighted to receive a replacement for her wringer washing machine or any one of the latest 1960s appliances given as prizes.
I was a queen for a day once in the 5th grade. My St. Francis Cabrini classmates voted me May Queen purportedly for my Mary-like qualities. Another time I was a finalist for Queen of Groundhog Prom. But so far, despite having been known to wear a tiara and receive roses, I’ve not been bestowed any powers of a monarchy greater than the hopeful homemakers who were grateful for a new refrigerator.
When I get on my soapbox complaining about all that is wrong with the world, talking as though I have all the answers, I’m occasionally able to stop myself and say, “Well, when “I’m queen…” and chuckle at my arrogance. While I don’t have real regal powers, I realize I’ve enjoyed powers that the women of my mother’s generation never had. Unlike them, I’ve had the power to seek legal protection in situations involving housing, employment, credit, and domestic violence. Living under this privilege of protection each day, I’m freer to live like a queen most every day.
Hoping to hold a benevolent reign, I remind myself to use my powers and that privilege for good.
Do you ever wish you had greater power?
Do you ever forget the power you hold right now?
How might you use your power for greater good in your world?