Sunday, September 28, 2008

Environ Mental Wisdom


NEW POSTERS - Put them up in your classrooms, offices, and businesses.

Would you put this into your child's class room? What would it accomplish regarding the plight of seals? And what would it do to your kid? I very much agree with the message, but not with putting it into anyone's classroom.

The reason I ask is because when I came across this, I was reminded of the misguided efforts in our California school system to make our kids conscientious environmentalists. My fourth grader - for over a year now - looks out at the most beautiful landscape, and forlornly declares "The Earth is dying. Corporations are killing everything." And, no, he is not depressed otherwise, but quite the cheerful, happy earthling.

"Well" - I say - "we can do things about it. Let's sign up for the beach clean-up day, or let's buy fewer toys, let's ride our bikes to school, let's make a list of things we won't buy to send those corporations a message. Let's make earth-friendly cookies" I put all my earth enthusiasm into it, but finally I had to give up. I couldn't keep up with the visiting environmentalists at our school assemblies. The problems presented to our children in school rightfully strike them as way too far beyond their power to change. My son thinks our little efforts are completely "useless" considering the big picture. "Picking up one bag of garbage isn't going to stop the North Pole from melting, Mom. So it's a waste of gas to drive there." Checkmate.

People in California would brand you a planet-callous nutcase, if you were to try to get these programs out of school. So, I just try to save my child, and let them keep saving the planet their way, which I am afraid will prove counter productive because they don't seem to understand the hearts of children.

Whenever "the earth is dying" comes home from school now, my child asks to watch Planet Earth at night. There were weeks last years that we had to watch it every single night. Life looked pretty resilient, especially near hot and poisonous gas spewing underwater ocean volcanoes.

We count the cows, pigs, chicken, and fish we haven't eaten, and all the trips we haven't taken. We read about the things corporations and scientists do to clean up our rivers and lakes. We look at the vast ocean sparkling in the sun to balance the picture of an ocean full of garbage that is in his class room. We grow vegetables - as they do in school (to their credit )- and we drive peacefully, knowing we are way ahead of everybody else who is still eating meat when it comes to global warming, including chubby Al Gore. And, I do think some or our teachers feel the same way and balance some of this with their vegetable gardens and encouragement, but I do think unintentional harm is being done to my child, that I have to then undo.

I think we create the future by the images we put into our children's minds. Therefore I simply disagree with the way this is handled in schools, although I care a great deal about the same issues. There is no wisdom in creating these overwhelming feelings of powerlessness in children when children could so easily be empowered and inspired instead, as seemed to be much easier twenty years ago when my older ones were little.

I also have lost hope in regards to activism. Greenpeace, PETA, and all the organizations that got my attention, my money and my support for many decades have failed because of their own violence. Now "animal rights activist" is close to "terrorists" in people's minds and animals continue to suffer and will do so even more now. Mankind has gone insane and requires a spiritual rebirth of major proportion. Not religion, but an inner transformation to peacefulness. The non-doing the Tao talks about, that gets everything done. We clever ones - corporations or environmentalists alike- have done enough, and look at the mess.

Maybe my kid is onto something. Maybe the school and I are a good bad cop/good cop team after all, and we will create children who know how to turn powerlessness - not into action - but into wisdom.

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