It isn't easy being a parent these days. Kids are growing up in a really rough world.
I don't have kids myself, but I have many friends who do. There are a number of common concerns that come up when we talk about current events and what it means for their families.
How do you cope knowing that climate change is going to get worse in their lifetimes? How do you keep your child's education well-rounded in countries that actively strip books off of their library shelves? How do you foster empathy and compassion in your children when basic survival is getting harder?
There are no easy answers to these questions.
Here in North America, we're butting up against a lot of serious problems. Schools in some parts of the United States are changing their curriculum, removing references to the history of slavery and systemic racism.
Kids are being denied the opportunity to learn about themselves and the way their bodies and minds work- just erasing mention of LGBTQ+ people is not going to make them straight or cisgender, after all. Never mentioning asexuality to me as a child didn't change the fact that I was born that way.
Books are being stripped off of the shelves of schools both in the United States and here in Canada, too. Some are being withdrawn because of content, and some are simply having their funding taken away.
The conservative Christian right-wing is active in both of our countries, pushing hard to control the information your kids are allowed to have.
It's rough. So what can we do?
Well, there's a charity over in the UK that could provide us with a little bit of inspiration. The Recycle to Read program.
Essentially, the concept is this: your kid can place old, unwanted or broken toys into the designated box at certain stores. In return, you gain points. These points can be redeemed to purchase books for your kid's school.
It's ingenious, really. It's a chance to teach your kids the value of sharing their old toys with other children who might use them more, and to teach them about the environment and their responsibility to try and protect it.
It also teaches them the value of books and knowledge, and that it's important to protect libraries. They're the bedrock of democracy, in my opinion.
Currently this initiative is based in the UK only, but I'd love to see similar programs launched in other countries. To be honest, I mainly wanted to highlight Recycle to Read because at this point, we need a win.
Like I said, things are rough right now. But it's important to remember that even when life looks grim, the small victories are worth celebrating. This is just one small charity event, but it represents a group of people that are fighting to do something good in the world.
It's a reminder that there is always something we can do to make the world a better place, even if it's just a drop in the bucket. One drop can't fill that bucket on its own, but a million drops won't just fill it- they will flood it until the water flows over the lip and spills.
This is why supporting one another in our efforts is so important. We can't achieve anything by working on our own, but when a community pulls together, we can accomplish anything.
This initiative is a shining example of that concept. It draws on the collective power of entire towns, all of the families in the area. It doesn't depend on one individual to fund the library, but it requests dozens of small actions to get it done one small step at a time.
This is how it's done. Instead of the death of a thousand cuts, it's the victory of a thousand acts of kindness.