This I Believe

Fatema - Lake Mary, Florida
Entered on January 22, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: parenthood
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I believe in the importance of parenthood. I believe in being there for your children; teaching them, listening to them, and loving them.

I believe it, but I didn’t always fully understand it.

It used to be that I would cringe at the mention of “motherly duties”. The notion seemed to have a stranglehold over my educational and career ambitions, which at the time consisted of over a decade of combined study and residency, followed by long and irregular hours as a full-fledged physician.

My goals were based on a desire to help others; they came from the heart, and I was hurt by people from the community continuously telling me that my dream was impractical.

It didn’t seem fair. I wanted to make a positive difference, and here I was being told that my “sphere of influence” could not extend farther than my own family! Why should I only bring up others to cause change, instead of being able to work for it myself?

Over the years, I came to learn that my passion had never really been the science of medicine, but the social aspect of bringing joy to a fellow human being. Following the war between Israel and Lebanon, my focus turned towards affecting change and bringing peace through political activism.

Within my community, I tried to increase awareness and concern for human rights issues. I distributed fliers on the presidential candidates’ stances, talked to friends about detainee treatment, and amassed signatures for a petition against the French ban on religious symbols.

In short, I fought for my cause by trying to win support for it, because there is strength in numbers. The more people believe in and are willing to fight for human rights, the more importance will be given to the issue politically.

After a while, I realized that the work I do as an activist is essentially the same as that carried out by parents all around the world. Every time I try to convince a person of the importance of fulfilling other people’s rights as human beings, I am attempting to instill in them what I consider a value, in the hope that they will then act according to that belief. I am doing what parents have done since the beginning of time.

This job is not one which receives a lot of praise in today’s society, but I still believe that it is as important as it ever was. Change may take time, but it’s not impossible. It is simply up to the parents of today to teach their children the values necessary for them to create a better tomorrow.

So while I would still endeavor to make it through all those years of study, and I still want to help change the world, I now also understand the other side: as important as being a doctor or activist rightfully is, being a mother is just as worthwhile.