When I was growing up, the furnace room in my parents' home doubled as a storage room for my Dad's massive slide collection. Every once in a while, Dad would venture downstairs, haul out the slide projector and massive screen and allow my sisters and I admittance to that almost unimaginable place: the world he and mom had inhabited before we were born.
One of his slide shows took us to South Carolina. In addition to the strange-looking trees and the much-younger looking parents (always a remarkable sight when you're a kid), we saw photos of signs that captured in a way that words could not the stark realities of segregation: images of WHITE – COLORED drinking fountains; or signs spelling out who could or couldn't walk through a particular door.
The conversations we had about those photos changed my life. They forged my values and set me on a path I continue to follow to this day through my work as a parenting author and someone who is passionate about social justice.
Tomorrow is going to be a day that our generation and our kids' generation will talk about and remember forever -- an ideal time to have a conversation with your kids about what inspires you, what infuriates you, and why.
- - Why we need leaders who will be honest and accountable (and who will not mislead the people in an effort to save their own jobs) and why the people and the media need to hold our leaders accountable;
- - Why we can't expect leaders to be perfect (because no one is perfect) but we can expect them to admit their mistakes and change course when they realize that a mistake has been made;
- - Why we should expect our leaders to ensure that all people are treated with respect and live in dignity (which necessitates action on poverty, mental health, health care, social justice issues, etc.);
- - Why we need leaders of vision (who will do what is right for the long-term health of the Planet, the good of the economy, and the health and welfare of the people rather than just focusing on getting re-elected)
- - Why it is important to be an involved and active citizen (and that doesn't just mean showing up to vote on voting day; it means being informed about the issues, understanding how government works, and determining who is going to represent you at all levels of government);
- - Why we need to join with other families to find innovative environmental, economic, and social justice solutions at the community level. That way, each of those unique local solutions can, in turn, become a building block that brings Canada closer to becoming both environmentally and economically sustainable and a global leader in social justice, peace-keeping, and diplomacy.
I don't know about you, but I'm hoping that the political winds of change will prove to be contagious -- that Barack Obama's inauguration will encourage Canadians to dare to dream big once again. Just imagine what that could mean for our children and our country's future, to say nothing of the future of the Planet.