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It’s pretty obvious that when you decide to have a baby whether you realize it or not you’re thinking about, and buying into, the future. It’s actually impossible to talk or think about children without implicitly or explicitly talking or thinking about the future.
Parents today, as parents throughout the ages, really want to do the very best job they can raising their children and preparing them for the future. Almost all parents are also over-committed at work and home because of the complex, rapidly changing, often chaotic world we live in.
And let’s face it, all of us are worried about the future. We are uncertain about the kind of world our children can expect. We feel helpless in the face of war, terrorism, overpopulation, global warming, you name it–all those possible disasters over which we have little or no control.
But we still have to raise our kids in today’s world. We can’t hide our heads in the sand. We can’t freak out worrying because our kids need us to provide the safe calm, stable atmosphere at home in which they can thrive.
And we are not totally helpless. We can keep ourselves informed, make our concerns known to elected politicians via letters and emails, and not only vote but vote smart to elect those who pay attention to children’s needs today as well as tomorrow.
At a commencement address I gave at a College of Nursing many years ago I talked about the rights of children and included the right to live in a healthy environment, to breathe good air and drink safe water. Children are not able to safeguard their environment but parents can work on their children’s behalf.
A few weeks ago we took our twin grandchildren, who live out of state, to Kartchner Caverns, a new State Park that recently opened in Arizona. Both 7-year-olds were very attentive to our guide’s explanations of how the caves were found and what extraordinary measures were, and are being, taken to preserve this treasure. After the visit while walking back to our car, Grandpa asked Jeremy and Grandma asked Hannah the same question, “What did you think about the caves?” Each replied the same way: the caves were beautiful and it was fun to walk in the dark and see the water dripping. And each added, “I’m going to bring my own children back here some day.”
They got it. They grasped and totally understood the concepts of conserving and preserving the environment for the children of the future. They weren’t just thinking about the good time they had that day–the highlight of their week. They were thinking about maintaining the earth’s treasures for others.
If 7-year-olds can get it, the rest of us including our elected officials and those who vote for them should be able to figure it out. We are one people on a fragile planet. It’s the only home we have. There’s no way to be homeless in space if we destroy our planet by neglect or greed or stupidity or simply not giving a damn.
Parents, busy as you are, you have one more job to do: Protect and preserve the environment for your children and all children.
What can you do?
o Expose your children to the wonders and beauties of nature.
o Teach them to respect the rules that protect these wonders. No litter, for example.
o Be a good role model by recycling, not littering, not wasting water and other resources.
o Vote for candidates who “get it,” who understand we will never have in the future that part of nature that we destroy today.
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