In Honeycomb Kids I write about the importance of deciding with your kids what your family stands for.
For our family, among many other things, we decided we were for: Clean water and good air. So when we heard about a local protest against coal seam gas mining (a threat that will potentially destroy the clean water and good air in ours and surrounding areas), we wondered if we should sit on our hands and do nothing, or should we make an effort to have our family’s voice heard.
Over the weekend we bought cardboard and made signs with the kids. It would be ours and theirs first protest and the kids having just seen a little about the “Arab Spring” uprisings with lots of tear gas and violence, were a little concerned at the prospect! But as more and more friends from groups like Landcare and local farmers market folk talked about the protest they knew they would be amongst caring and gentle adults and started to get excited at the prospect of having their say.
The protest started at midday, so when I popped in to pick up the 6 year old from school, her teacher smilingly quipped: “Well, this is the first time I’ve had a first-grader pulled out of school for a protest, will she be back this afternoon?”. “Not if we get arrested,” I joked. Our 9 year old’s teacher wished us well too and off we went to join hundreds of others, all dressed in blue…blue to signify the beautiful, pure water we all currently enjoy.
I felt grateful to all the people at the rally – a mix of farmers, retirees, environmentalists, indigenous leaders, council representatives, grandparents, business owners and just regular people – I felt grateful that they cared enough about our children’s future to take time out of their day to have a say. And I felt so sad that we have people in positions of power making short term decisions based on greed that will affect the lives of so many going forward. But I also felt empowered in that we joined with others to at least try to make a difference, and that our children were able to feel the support of the community around them. Our kids need to know that it’s okay to speak up rather than just be spoken to and that they have the right to fight for a clean water and clear air future.
Is there something your family all feel really strongly about? If so, lead your own rally…it might just be a sign on your fence, a letter to the editor or an afternoon gathering of local residents – if we can start teaching our kids how to have a say about things that matter, we’re one step closer to creating a better world for them in the future.