Last week at a parent-teacher conference, the words used to describe my four-year-old were “righteous,” “fair,” and “passionate.” I have never felt so proud.
Obviously I have made no secret about standing up for what I believe in and trying to proactively ignite change. Whether it is the latch on the local playground, styrofoam at my favorite ice cream parlor, or phthalates in major brand beauty products.
I’ve found that 99.9% of people will walk by graffiti on a wall and think “Oh that’s a shame. Someone should do something about that.” But so few of us will actually take the one minute to report the graffiti with a simple iPhone app.
“Someone should do something about that.” I want my children to be that someone.
It must be easier to just ignore all the injustice, bad practices, messes in the world. And, of course, no one can do everything and we have to choose our battles. But I believe what I read in Zoe Weill’s book Most Good Least Harm that true, meaningful happiness comes from living a more conscious life and not abiding by “ignorance is bliss.”
If we always wait for someone else to do something about the problems in our community or our planet, we render ourselves helplesss. If we ignore problems that do not impact us directly, that makes us self-absorbed. I want my children to be empowered and bold and compassionate. I want them to take a stand for what they believe in.
That said, wouldn’t it be a kick in the ass if they ended up protesting outside an abortion clinic or crusading against gay rights? I suppose that sort of terrible irony is not impossible, but hopefully unlikely. I hope it isn’t foolish to hope that if I can raise them to be self-starting, impassioned “do-ers,” I can also instill enough of my own belief system for them to use that power for what I consider to be “good.”
In the meantime, I wish for my children to be like a few of my dear friends who are true “passionate do-ers of the righteous:”
Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and a powerful force in protecting the river against threats including shale fracking and drilling, dredging, dumping, pollution and detrimental construction.
Julie Hancher, a local green blogger who is fighting tirelessly for plastic bag regulation in Philadelphia
Tamara Rubin, a mother of three on a crusade against the real dangers of lead poisoning
Penelope Jagessar Chaffer, a brilliant filmmaker working to bring her movie Toxic Baby to a larger audience
Leah Segedie, whose own journey to health inspired a continuing battle for GMO labeling and against junk food marketing to children
And there are so many more who keep me inspired everyday and let me know I am not alone in my thoughts and actions. I am so proud to count people like these as colleagues and friends and hope my children will mirror the actions of the fair and righteous crusaders!