A Message To My 11 Month Old Niece

Do you know what it’s like to live a life of privilege? There’s nothing wrong with living life on a fast lane if you go out of your way to earn it. You work hard, play hard, day in, day out, sure you deserve it 100%. Self-righteous or not, privilege isn’t necessarily a dirty word. I’m a firm believer that privilege is something we earn, not something we own. But what if privilege is given to us without us doing the work?

My niece was born on Valentine’s Day 2018. For that reason, I call her little cupid. She’s now a healthy, active 11-month-old baby girl. The first time I saw her, she was only 2-day old and still at the hospital. From that moment on, I decided that I want to be a different type of uncle. An uncle like no others. I’ll be her friend, playmate, soulmate, coach and guidance. One day when she’s old enough to learn about this wild wild world we live in, I’ll be there to tell her the stories about our family – how we came to Australia and how we flourished in The Lucky Country. Oh man, so many things I want to pass down and instill in her but the one that sticks out from all others is the idea of taking nothing for granted. It’s a good virtue for anyone to have. Don’t you think?

Look around, there’s a sense of entitlement embedded in many of us these days which we often take for granted, be it the right to vote, to marry, to speak freely or to move into a new city or a different country etc. These so called human rights we were born with or grew up with did not come of their own accord but because a group of brave women and men before us, before our times, who had fought long and hard or risked their freedom or even lives to achieve equality and justice we now enjoy and regard as the norm. Over a year ago, I was fortunate enough to be part of the history – having a say in Australian Marriage Law. I’m proud of being one of the Yes voters in the postal survey conducted by ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics). When the results were announced, the majority of Australians were overjoyed by an overwhelming, wide spread public support for marriage equality across all states and territories. What it led to was on the 7th of December 2017, Marriage Act was officially amended to include same sex couples. Right when the motion was passed in the federal parliament, Australia went to join the ranks of the other 25 nations to become the 26th country in the world to recognise same sex marriage. On that day, my niece wasn’t even born yet. This is just one of many examples. Things like Freedom of Information Act, multiculturalism, to name just a few. My niece like other babies around her age will grow up knowing her human rights are protected by law, largely thanks to those unsung heroes for their relentless work to fight against the old, unfair laws. Some taboos that were once thought to be sensitive, untouchable or even impossible, are now a way of life. Of course, there’re still more jobs to be done in all areas where discrimination may still be present. We can change the law but we can’t change people’s attitude overnight.

My little cupid, remember, you belong to nobody but yourself. Some day you’ll work your way up to discover a unique trait in yourself like no other, that’s your gift to the world. Give as if it’s a privilege but don’t ever allow anyone to take your goodness for granted. Somehow, I realize this is a message to uncle Ted, too…

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