Choose to be Heard

Posted on July 22, 2016

By Katherine Keeping,

Vice-President, PARO Board of Directors & member of the Women In Politics- Northwestern Ontario Committee

 

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

 Alice Walker

 

Growing up, I was lucky. As a family we went to the local library every weekend with three massive bags full of books to return. Two were full of books that were returned on time, and one was filled with overdue books that we couldn’t help but reread – some ideas you feel the need to consider twice.  And at the end of the outing we left with bags full of books again.

Kids-Reading-Books-300x198.jpg

We were the kids that would call the Reference Desk with questions at supper time over whatever topic we were arguing about, including if bears had tails.

My brother and I would read anything. Books, comics, cereal boxes in French and English while we ate our breakfast, and newspapers when we were bored. My mother actively encouraged this curiosity, and the need to question. She even gifted me with my first dictionary; I think it was partly out of a hope to accomplish something other than answering my endless questions.

This thirst for knowledge lead me to writing to politicians, most especially Prime Ministers. Since before I turned 10 years old I have written to question policies - including the need for the loonie. I have written to encourage politicians. And I have written to outright disagree.

In most cases they write back. If they do not, I persist in writing with queries and encouragement to respond until they do write. I save every letter. Sometimes I turn out to be correct over the long term - I am losing more substantial pocket change now that the loonie exists.  And sometimes I am incorrect. But I believe that there is value in being able to look back on choices made.

When I began writing so many years ago, a single letter represented 250 citizens who did not choose to have a voice. I imagine that by this point that has grown as our country too has grown. But why am I telling you this?

change-voice.jpg

I want you to know that you have a choice, and that you have a voice.

That when you choose to write to an elected representative your opinion has the opportunity to be heard. And ever so much more importantly, that when you choose to vote your voice is being heard. Your words and your actions give you power and are your legacy. Whether you Tweet, Message, or send a letter in the mail, I encourage you to be heard at whatever political level you would like to see change occur.