This month, Kozo asks us to…
Have I mentioned my kid’s gonna save the world? Maybe not in this space, but I definitely did on fb as she was getting ready for her most recent trip to the Dominican Republic.
She’s actually there now, but I asked her to write a little something for this month’s Peace Child Challenge before she left because I was intrigued about how she became so worldly, generous and wise, given that she had ME as one of her parents.
Let’s begin by establishing that I believe in personal responsibility and that one must live with the consequences of their actions and decisions. Thus, while my children were actually still children and we came upon transients asking for hand-outs around and about town, I would always counsel my children against direct handouts, believing that most people living on the street actually live such a lifestyle by choice. I’m happy to donate to organizations and shelters that assist those people who want to get off the streets, but I choose not to directly support those who choose not to take advantage of such services and programs, and instead prefer to sleep wherever chance may find them each night. Harsh, perhaps, but there it is.
So imagine my surprise when I raised a conscientious do-gooder who not only volunteers at the local homeless shelter, but then also takes that experience to volunteer for one of the largest homeless service organizations in the world, the Glide Memorial Church; and who works at a job only long enough to pay for her next trip to the Dominican Republic — half a world away — in support of Una Vida and their mission to elevate the standard of living of women and children in that country; and who plans to continue to volunteer wherever her whim may take her for the rest of her life? How the heck did THAT happen?
So, I asked her to explain it in her own words. Here’s what she wrote:
My mother asked me to be a guest writer for this blog, I believe, because I have chosen a “Save the World” path through life, as she likes to put it. She is baffled by my compassionate attitude towards the world because she thinks I didn’t get it from her. (However, I remember a very specific conversation I had with her when I was at least nine or ten. A conversation in which she sat me down and explained to me why I need to be grateful for the luxuries of my life. This will become important later.)
My mother is interested in learning the why and how of my chosen way of spending my time here on Earth. Why do I volunteer on a regular basis? Why did I feel the urge to travel to a third world country on a service trip? How have other people influenced me? How did my life as a child build the foundation for my life path? Why have I chosen compassion over ignorance? Why do I feel a drive to DO SOMETHING?
Answering these questions takes a tremendous knowledge of yourself, a never-ending quest I have just embarked on. But I will try my best in hopes that the answers may help more children find a similar road to travel on. Specifically, a road of awareness. Because that’s all it is really. Allowing yourself to become aware of what is really happening all over the world. The slavery taking place that is now more than the world has ever seen. How the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The human race using up more natural resources than are available. The fact that when I walk down the street and smile at those passing by, maybe THREE out of every ten smile back. Oh the list of problems could go on of course.
In this nation we have a plethora of information available to us at our very fingertips. As I crave to learn more about the issues of the world in this age, I find an overwhelming amount of books to read. A list so long, I could never catch up. I bring this up as a tool we can use for the children. We can teach them how to educate themselves. Because all it took for me was awareness and then, once I knew, I was simply not okay with living my life of abundance and comfort and having every need AND want met when others do not live this way. The inequality has never made sense to me and if I am not doing something about it, I don’t feel right living my life.
That is where my drive comes from. Knowing everyday people suffer while I go to school, or watch a show, or make a trip to the store, or spend time with friends. Just KNOWING makes me want to take action.
Where my awareness came from, I couldn’t really tell you. It has been from a young age. It could have been the influence of my incredibly unselfish family. Or watching my grandmother give food and conversation to the homeless woman who slept in front of the restaurant we frequently visited. It could be a spiritual knowledge. Perhaps in another life I suffered in extreme conditions (one of my mother’s ideas). It could have been that one conversation I had with my mother in which she explained I should appreciate my life because not everyone has what I had. I remember the television being a specific example she gave. Maybe it was the assemblies in elementary school where the principle danced to a song with the lyrics, “put a smile on your face, make the world a better place.” All I know is that I used to lie in bed as a child and list all the aspects of life I was grateful for. My bed, my house, my family, my friends, my school. Which led to my pondering what other children had or didn’t have. Imagine if the majority of children did this on a regular basis. How would that shape their future thinking? What if it was a requirement in school to make this list? What if elementary schools took field trips to the local nursing home for the diseased and disabled? What if non-fiction books about slavery, abuse, and homelessness were part of high school curriculum? What if we simply made more of an effort to get awareness to the next generation?
Just like any organization fighting an issue threatening our livelihood, be it health related, ending slavery, improving education, solving homelessness, reducing crime, the number one priority is RAISING AWARENESS. I would always hear this but didn’t understand the importance until recently when I realized that awareness can BE the solution.
Globally aware AND well-spoken, isn’t she? She really is gonna save the world… and I couldn’t be more proud.