I’m a pretty mild mannered person, but do something to threaten my kids and you will unleash a lion. Among all the different motivations for living sustainably, thinking about what sort of world I’m leaving for my kids and their kids is the one that moves me most. Any action I take now to live more simply and mindfully is a way of loving it forward for them.
I was reading some predictions about what life will be like in 70 years. Its pretty scary. If we continue on the path we’re on, one third of all flora and fauna will be extinct. The sort of floods we have only usually seen every hundred years will happen every three years. Immigration from Mexico where land may become unusable could be in the millions. Wildfires in California will quadruple. I even heard that coffee may become extinct. So if you don’t do it for the kids. Do it for the coffee.
Loving it forward requires us to get out of our own comfort and needs. Its a great exercise in humility. I love the story of Hona told in the Talmud. Hona was the circle drawer. In the midst of a drought, he drew a circle around him in the first and refused to leave the circle until it rained. At first there were a few drops, and he demanded more. Then it started flooding, so he asked for less. As soon as the rain fell in just the right quantity, he left the circle.
Soon he came upon someone planting a carob tree. He asked how long it would take to grow. The farmer said, “Seventy years.” He asked him, “Will you even be around the enjoy the tree in seventy years?” The man said, “No, but my grandkids will. I enjoy the carob from trees my grandparents planted and so I plant trees for my grandchildren.” Hona drifted into a deep sleep, and woke up seventy years later. (the number 70 represents a life span, three score and ten) When he found the same tree, he asked the farmer if he planted the tree. The farmer said, “No, my grandfather did.” He then asked him if he knew the man Hona. He said, “I know his grandson.”
We’re all related, whether we remember or not. Our actions have consequences for a long time to come.
I’ve been inspired by the Eco-activist Sandra Steingraber, who is currently serving a 15 day jail sentence in New York state. She and 11 friends occupied a facility where they store fracking waste near their home on the Finger Lakes. They drew a circle in the dirt and refused to leave until fracking stopped. She describes fracking as toxic trespass, and so she was willing to be arrested for trespassing to build awareness.
Sandra is a mother of young kids. Her kids are affected by her decisions. For 15 days, she isn’t making their lunches or driving them to soccer. Its got to be an eerie experience for all of them. And yet she’s doing it for them. She said this,
I am convinced the tears of my children now will be less than their tears later – along with the tears of my grandchildren – if we mothers (and fathers, and grandparents, and all the village) do nothing and allow the oil, coal, and gas companies to hurdle us all off the climate cliff.
She’s loving it forward because she cares. And she’s teaching her kids to stand by their principles. I can’t image a more important example to set for kids.
No matter what your opinion on fracking, or what your opinion about alternative energy sources, love it forward by thinking beyond your own needs and comforts to consider how your kids and their kids will be impacted by choices we make today.
As Chief Seattle said,
We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.