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This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about Dr. King’s message. Yesterday was Dr. King’s birthday and today is the National Day of Service. It’s a time to think about how we can each make a positive impact towards equality and also, about how we will pass along his message to our children.
In our home we talk about racism and social activism everyday, but even though it’s a regular part of the conversation, that doesn’t necessarily mean that my daughter will understand where she fits into the picture or how she can make a difference. I think that’s why it’s so important that we combine both talks about social justice and works. Our children must not only hear us talking about what matters, but see us taking action for what matters.
This idea reminds me of a quote… “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing” from Edmund Burke. This is one of my favorite quotes, next to Mahatma Ghandi’s paraphrased “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, Nelson Mandela’s “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” and Dr. King’s “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I think it’s pretty clear that our action is what is needed to make positive changes, and while telling our kids what’s right helps, I think the message goes a lot further when we show them how to do the right thing.
I remember before I had my daughter, I volunteered a lot…I mean, every weekend and some weekdays. Now days, I don’t volunteer nearly as much, but I know that it’s something that I want to my daughter to witness regularly, and while I likely won’t got back to weekly volunteering until she’s older, I still want it to be a big part of our lives. Sometimes I’ve participated by virtual volunteering and other times I’ve poured my heart out into my writing, hoping to make an impact that may and change someone’s perspective. But no matter how we go about it, I think it’s important that we’re all taking steps to give back consistently.
Some ways that hubby and I have given back:
- teaching second language classes
- mentoring youth in our community
- teaching catechism and Sunday school
- cooking and decorating at fundraisers
- organizing fundraisers and recruiting
- speaking at higher ed conferences for Latino youth
- donating food, clothes and furniture
- donated services to local African American history museum
- educating our families and friends about our interracial life
I think now, I more volunteer my time online and with those closest to me, like family and friends. But I do miss volunteering more in my community and I know that it’s important for my daughter to see us supporting others besides family and friends. Not only that, but it’s important that she see how volunteering our own personal and professional skills can help to uplift our community and foster equality.
I think that of all our volunteer experiences, the most fruitful were those when we mentored youth, taught language courses or helped in establishing events and centers that promoted pride in our community. Those experiences made real differences in our community and ones that could create change. I want my daughter to know that she can also give back to her community, and the only way I can teach her that is by helping her cultivate and take pride in the talents that she has to offer.
For parents who have older kids, how do you help your children to give back? How do you demonstrate to them that they have important skills to offer?
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