I hope that you are feeling great and that the new year has started out well for you. I have been reading a book about women (yes a Christmas gift) who played roles in changing the course of history and one has really made an impression on me.
As this has made such an impression on me I have decided to use someone else’s words to begin. I have taken this excerpt from a declaration whereby Obama proclaimed February 4, 2013, as the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Rosa Parks. Have a read of the first part of the speech:
PROCLAMATION BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – BARACK OBAMA
“On December 1, 1955, our Nation was forever transformed when an African-American seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama, refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white passenger. Just wanting to get home after a long day at work, Rosa Parks may not have been planning to make history, but her defiance spurred a movement that advanced our journey toward justice and equality for all.
Though Rosa Parks was not the first to confront the injustice of segregation laws, her courageous act of civil disobedience sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott — 381 days of peaceful protest when ordinary men, women, and children sent the extraordinary message that second-class citizenship was unacceptable. Rather than ride in the back of buses, families, and friends walked. Neighbourhoods and churches formed carpools. Their actions stirred the conscience of Americans of every background, and their resilience in the face of fierce violence and intimidation ultimately led to the desegregation of public transportation systems across our country.
Rosa Parks’ story did not end with the boycott she inspired. A lifelong champion of civil rights, she continued to give voice to the poor and the marginalised among us until her passing on October 24, 2005.”
That morning she went off to work, Rosa most likely did not think to herself “yes today I will change the world”, she was just one normal African American woman. However her one simple act of defiance would change the lives of generations, and not just for African Americans but women around the world.
It can be stated that if not for her actions that ordinary day in 1955, the events that occurred at noon on the 20th of January 2009 would not have happened. This was when the Presidency of Barack Obama began and he became the 44th President of the United States, making Obama the first African-American president of the United States. This was one of the events that were made possible when the quiet unassuming ‘black’ woman refused to sit at the back of a bus on her way home from a long and tiring day at work.
During the past six months whilst I have been trying to find my place in the world, I have spent much of my time both listening and reading about the woes of individuals, communities, groups, and countries. What I have noticed is that many will pass the issue off with an “I don’t care”, “it’s not my problem”, or even worse ignore the injustice.
Well sorry, but it is your problem and you should care.
Parents. We teach our children that nothing is their fault. In trouble at school because they do not listen; sit still; punch another student; do not do their school work, yes the list is endless, but it is the fault of the teacher; the system; the kid they punched. We blame anyone but ourselves or our child. Do not start yelling that I do not know what I am talking about, but rather take an honest look at yourself…if you are one of these parents then STOP and teach your child to accept that every action has consequences. These can be either good or bad but YOU must accept responsibility for the choices you make. Demonstrate by example and show your child that everything you do as a result and let them witness mistakes getting fixed up. After all, that is your job to teach them how to live in the world.
Governments. Individuals who promise us the world, if we extend them the authority to run OUR nation. We have the right to expect honesty, loyalty and a decent way of life. Do they deliver? NO! In return for our show of good faith, we are repaid by lies, treachery, cover-ups and back-room dealings. It is time for the politicians to accept responsibility for their actions. They should lead by example. We expect a world where we can raise the next generation to believe the anything is possible. We should no longer tolerate our country being led by incompetent legislators, ask those citizens of America and the same is happening here in Australia.
I often hear stated “but I am just one person, what difference can I make”? History has shown us that it is the ‘one’ person who does in fact change history.
The fact an African American can make a proclamation acknowledging the actions taken by a 42-year-old seamstress in 1955; and that he does so as the President of America, shows that one person can make a difference.
Peter Lalor led the Eureka rebellion, this event is credited as the key incident in the advances to the Australian democracy and identity. It can be stated that the actions of one man allowed for ‘Australian democracy to be born at Eureka’.
Eddie Koiki Mabo was an Aboriginal Australian man known for his role in campaigning for Indigenous land rights and the role he played in a landmark decision of the High Court of Australia, which overturned the legal doctrine of terra nullius (“land belonging to nothing, no one”) which had and was Australian law with regards to land and title after English settlement. Similar to Rosa Parks the contributions made by Eddie Mabo have been acknowledged with Mabo Day which occurs annually on 3 June.
So next time you get riled up by something, do not yell at the television, or the kids or even your workmates. Work out a plan of action and follow though…you may well be the world’s next Rosa Parks, Peter Lalor or Eddie Mabo.