As a parent, everytime I watch the news I shudder. The poor young woman raped and killed in India recently. Newtown. Politicians saying things like rape is impossible because the woman’s body has a mechanism to keep it from happening. Families losing their homes to foreclosure because one parent became ill.. The scary changes in our weather and environment. The devastation of Sandy.
|Protests in India following the brutal gang rape and murder of a 23 year old medical student while she rode the bus home.|
I tried to shelter my children from the harsh realities of the world, because I didn’t want them to grow up afraid of what the world was really like. I didn’t want to spoil their innocence. However, now as they approach adulthood, I realize that may have been a disservice.
|A homeless mother and her baby|
I came from very humble beginnings, worked from the age of 15, and worked hard to achieve my education. I naturally want my children to have it easier, and achieve more than I did. Not out of a sense of vanity, that I want them to be rich and famous, and have more material things. It was a sense of giving them what they needed to have happiness. I wanted them to have a top –notch education, travel the world, have a sense of healthy self esteem. I also wanted them to learn that along with privilege, is a sense of obligation and responsibility to help others, to make the world a better place.
|US Ambassador at large for Global Women's Issues, Melanne Verveer|
I think my eldest daughter has an innate sense of this already. When the tragic tsunami in Indonesia took place years ago, she made bracelets and potholders to sell at school to raise money for the victims. My little one dragged her Unicef box wherever she went around Halloween time, hell bent on getting those coins, forget the candy. This, however, was not my doing, and now as I approach the empty nest, I wonder, could I have done more? Teaching your children about preparing for the world is more than giving them unconditional love, the best of “things”, the best education. The gift of social responsibility, I feel, is the gift that is just as important as the others, for my children to grow up to be happy, successful adults. It’s a gift of purpose in life.
Their father and I, after our divorce, used to sit down with them and do weekly “Sunday School” sessions with them, based on Eastern Philosophy, because they were Hindu. One of the most important lessons was, you don’t honor God by just going to Church/Temple. Or by wearing a religious symbol. The way to worship God is to help others, because God is everyone. God is the homeless family on the corner, begging for food. God is the children of poverty and abuse, who don’t have the privileges to break the cycle of their circumstances. God are the women in third world countries, denied education, fearing for their safety when they leave their homes, sometimes even in their own homes. God is that beautiful bird, lying on a beach, soaked in oil, because of the irresponsibility of a big corporation. The name of the religion isn’t what’s important. It’s the actions you take that are important.
So, it’s never too late to instill a sense of social responsibility on our children…they really are the saviours of our future, the reason the Mayan doomsday theory didn’t come to fruition. They make me proud…now let’s empower them to do the right thing.
|Tragic effects of BP Oil Spill|
Hell is not a place. It is a sense of regret at the end of your life for not having lived up to your potential, not having done everything you could have done to leave the world a better place than when you entered it.
Peace and love,