Life’s Little Things

Children can make a difference in the world in quite huge ways

"Mum did you know that Amur leopards are in danger of extinction?" "Dad, did you know that there are only a few hundred mountain gorillas left in the wild? "Why would anyone kill a rhino for itsí tusks let alone hunt it to the edge of extinction?"

Every time my sons watch these or similar adverts on television they are overcome with angst that something awful is happening to some wild animal and they are filled with a desire to do something to help immediately. 

I love that they are appalled at injustice and I am proud that they want to do something positive, but I dislike having to douse their wild enthusiasm with harsh economic realities. I explain that there are many worthy causes in the world and our time and resources are finite; we must choose where best to direct our efforts.

They understand that when their pocket money is spent it is indeed gone and no amount of wishing otherwise will make it reappear. They are learning that there is a cost attached to most of lifeís actions and that there is a system of balance where investment in one area limits our capacity to invest in something else. But most encouraging of all is unlike many of us, they do not see those limitations as overwhelming or paralysing. They are spurred to action and demand action on my part too.


When the questions are "why are there so many starving children in the world Mum, is there not enough food for everyone", I am quite rightly being called to account. My family are my focus and my priority but I am reminded that we are intertwined with a much bigger family which should be made better by our participation in it. Whether that is participation in the 1% difference campaign or sponsoring a child or any one of many hundreds of worthy charities, overcoming inertia and becoming infected with childish wide eyed enthusiasm is the first step towards making a difference.

Like most parents we harbour the hope that someday our children may change the world; that their presence may be the catalyst for positive change in this world and their actions will render even a small part of the world better in some way. More than being able to look my children in the eye and allowing them to sleep unworried at night, I want them to feel empowered to act.


Their tiny ripples can and do make a difference in quite huge ways. Out of such small beginnings and following the example of the many thousands of movers and shakers who get things done, we can participate in very meaningful ways on the larger stage.

I was told recently that a friendís 10-year-old daughter decided to swap her long hair for a short bob style. Her Mum was dubious, as 10 years of hair growth would not be easily replaced if she had a change of heart. Mum was stunned to hear that her daughterís intention was to donate the hair to Locks of Love, a charity which makes wigs for children who suffer hair loss through illness. Now that is what I call walking your talk. So whether it is Amur leopards or the mountain lion, whether it is children in desperate need or natural disasters, unlike so many other occasions when I must say no to my children, this time I say yes; yes we can and it feels great. All we have to do is choose to throw the pebble into the water and watch the ripples roll on.