I grew up with a mother who was constitutionally unable to bury her head in the sand when she saw an injustice or noticed something that needed to change. Despite the fact that she was raising nine children at the time (eventually ten), she took action: She ran committees, spearheaded campaigns, wrote letters, led meetings, and even ran for local office. She wasn’t afraid to speak up, even if other people rolled their eyes or didn’t get it.
This apple didn’t fall far from the tree: There’s an activist in me always clamoring to get out. It’s tempered by my pragmatic side and a tendency to be diplomatic, but it’s there, and has shown itself in different ways over the years. Eventually I’ll do more with it, I’m sure. These days, though, I’m thinking about the ways I can help my girls develop their natural sense of justice and compassion as they grow up. I want them to have the confidence to stand for what they believe in and to know that their voice and actions can make a difference.
Each of us has some area that calls to us — education, the welfare of children, human rights, healthcare, poverty, the environment, agriculture, the arts, etc. And although many of us don’t have the time or inclination to picket or march on Washington, there are many ways to advocate for change and teach our children to do the same: write letters, emails, and even blog posts; engage our social media circles; fundraise, volunteer, and share info with friends and neighbors; donate time, talent, and money; join a group or committee; exercise the right to vote…the list goes on.
It also helps to know what your natural inclinations are when it comes to making change. Here’s a fun little quiz (put out by the same people who did The Story of Stuff) to help you discover what kind of changemaker you are. It was interesting to think about what personality traits might drive my involvement or help me be successful in making change.
Do you think of yourself as a changemaker, or even an activist? How do you teach your children to be aware of the wider world and the important issues out there?