Yes, read that again. Because it’s true.
At 12 years old I was listening to a presentation from (now former) NBA player Steve Nash. Nash said ‘Raise your hands if you want to be Prime Minister of Canada one day’. Only a couple of kids in the room raised their hands. Nash then said ‘Raise your hand if you think you’re going to be Prime Minister of Canada one day’. Only one girl, a girl named Rachel, kept her hand up. Nash then said ‘Rachel is the only person in this room who will be Prime Minister one day’. A few of the boys in this room took aim at this statement and responded with ‘No she can’t because she’s a girl’.
The two things Steve Nash said next have stayed with me ever since.
Firstly, he looked at those boys who took aim with the idea of a female Prime Minister and said ‘My hope for you is that as you move into your teenage and adult years you adopt a way of thinking that measures a person’s value on who they are, not what they are. A person’s gender matters not to whether or not they are capable of a job, any job, and your discounting Rachel based off the fact that she’s a girl is a disservice to all women and girls around the world. You are not superior simply because you were born male. Please remember that’.
Secondly, he said ‘The only person in this room who can be Prime Minister one day is Rachel. I say this because she’s the only person who wants to be and she’s the only person who thinks she can be.’ He went on to say ‘The only limitations you have in this world are the ones you put on yourself’. If these boys over here don’t think she can do it, are they going to stop her? No. If Rachel wants it bad enough, she’s going to make it happen regardless of who says what to her. If Rachel doesn’t put a limitation on becoming Prime Minister, I see no reason why she cannot grow up to be just that’.
‘The only limitations you have in this world are the ones you put on yourself.’
Anyone has the power and possibility to do anything that they set their mind to, so long as they’re willing to work for it. So I guess the question is, if you’re not willing to work for it, do you really want it?
Also, it’s important to stop passing on the notion that people are less valuable to our society because of their gender, age, ability/disability, skills, intelligence or anything else that people use as a means to discredit or undervalue someone. Even at twelve years old the boys in my class had already had it ingrained in their minds that women couldn’t do what men could do. We need to remind ourselves, our friends, our family, that a person’s worth to this world is not measured by statistics. It’s not measured by the things we cannot control.
If Rick Hansen can wheel over 40,000 kms through 34 countries on his own, in a wheelchair and Terry Fox can run 5,300 kms on one leg, if Susan Wojcicki can be the CEO of Youtube, if Ruth Bader Ginsburg can still be sitting on the Supreme Court at 86 after beating cancer several times, and people all over the world can defy the odds (the odds we put on ourselves no less) then the future really has limitless possibility.
Remember that next time you judge someone based on their appearance, their gender, their age, or any other reason you think is an excuse to devalue the potential someone brings to this world.