'Yes We Can' Leave the World Better for Our Children

I've always been opinionated. Once I was of voting age, I realized that I could put those opinions to good use. I’ve been active in politics ever since. It actually started when I was a kid and wrote a letter to Jimmy Carter. Who would have known back in 1980 that I would grow up to name my first son after President Carter! We even met him once and have a slew of books he autographed. He was so delightful and charming that it totally reinforced our naming decision. Even our younger son has a politically inspired name. His name means “blue” in Bengali, my family’s native language. We joke that he was born blue in a red state. But I digress ...

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I've always seen the world as a place bigger than the walls around me. I suppose being from an immigrant family and a lifetime of world travel granted me this perspective. When I became a mother, my perspective shifted to make me see things in an even broader way. I no longer focused on the here and now, I started focusing on the future. Not my future, my sons’ future. The concept of legacy is important to me, mostly because I have no sense of that myself. We seemed to lose some of our heritage when we settled here and acclimated as Americans. My parents are naturalized citizens so being an American with the right to vote was never taken for granted in my family. We didn’t speak of it, but the sense of pride and civic duty was always palpable. Now that I have a family of my own, I want to be more explicit about how we discuss political and social issues. We talk about topics that are relevant to our sons’ ages and keep the context within what they will appreciate and value. We want to engage and energize them, not intimidate and alienate them.

I have a fierce desire to follow the cliche to leave the world better for my sons. I also want to show them firsthand that one person can sway the tides and that being engaged in the system is how to change the world. I want to show them that we have a responsibility to protect the vulnerable and speak out for the disenfranchised. I get so overwhelmed with pride and joy whenever I cast my ballot. I have taken my sons canvassing in our own neighborhood and have taken them with me to vote in all elections big and small. I love to vote and want my sons to catch the fever too. I admittedly dressed them in “Yes We Can T-shirts as we walked to vote in 2008. Together we have marched in protests against the resegregation of our school system and watched presidential speeches on television. I openly talk to my sons about the issues that matter to me and follow up with what we can do about it. I want them to see that being informed, educated, and involved makes a big difference. And I hope they pass that on to their children one day.

 

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