Saturday, April 23, 2011

78 Months

Lucas is an environmentalist! Our agenda is working! Lucas drew the picture above awhile ago and though it is very simple, we still have it on our fridge because the frown upon the guy's face as he chops down those trees is priceless.

He is really embracing an attitude of care for the environment and it absolutely fills my heart with hope. It's something that he is embracing and becoming passionate about. Earth Day is coming up and one of the assignments in his class was to draw what they love about the planet. Lucas's drawing was all about nature. He spoke about going to the desert and camping and appreciating the natural world all around him. He said that he loves nature.

We are teaching him about what we find important in this life and for Christina and I, the connection that we have with the environment is something that we feel strongly about. One aspect of the Buddhism that we practice focuses on interdependence, the intricate connection that we have our surroundings. The idea is that it is impossible to truly create happiness unless we nurture and take care of the environment around us. If the world is falling apart and calamity upon calamity occurs, then it doesn't take a genius to perceive that the people are going to suffer. If the world is toxic then you are bound to find toxins in your life. If those that surround you are mired in the pit of despair then their actions will bleed over into your life. No wall or fence or gun will make that any less true. The environment simply gives back what we give it and that fundamental truth is what guides our actions when we look out at the world.

Sure, there are times when we don't follow those guidelines to the rule and they may tend to snap back at us every so often but when we educate Lucas and Quinn about the philosophy of human nature, when we attempt to nurture their lives so that one day they may make decisions for themselves that bring them true happiness, then we impart these ideals with strong conviction. I want their lives to be much better than my own and in order for that to happen then it is going to take a big effort on my part to help make that happen. The best part of it all is that when I have dialogue about these concepts, even with my own children, then I'm able to reaffirm and reconnect to the validity and power of these ideals for myself. Then my actions toward creating a better tomorrow begin to come more naturally and I'm able to encourage myself to transform who I am and become that person I greatly wish to be, to become someone that I would admire.

These aren't complicated ideas either and maybe that's why a six-year-old can so easily identify with them. We tend to over analyze everything in our culture so that it becomes less clear after awhile and when we get confused it becomes easier to do nothing, to not take action or hold in those words that might make a difference. I don't want Lucas to be like that. I've spent four decades keeping my mouth shut worrying about avoiding confrontation and I've learned that if I want to respect myself then I can no longer live that way.

I'm going to teach my children these important lessons as long as it's within my power. I showed Lucas a video of an oil pipeline that ruptured in the wilderness in Montana, one of the most beautiful areas of our country. The images were stunning, grand mountain terrains and untouched forests for miles around, and throughout this wonderful landscape oil companies had stripped away the land so that they could profit. The people who lived their had no say in any of the exploration and transportation of this crude product that controls so many aspects of our lives. The government just handed it over to these corporations who will never perceive the beauty all around them as they stick their heads beneath the dirt and lick up the darkness. Yet, what is even worse than all of that is what happens when the pipelines break and the people who live there have to suffer the consequences. It's utterly despicable how these companies continue to show their complete disregard for humanity and the environment all so that they can make an easy dollar.

As we watched I could see and feel the truth of Rachel Carson's horrific description at the beginning of Silent Spring when she writes about a devastated land ravaged by pollution. And Lucas could feel it too.

He asks me, "Why do they do that?"

"Because they are able to make a lot of money doing that."

Then he tells me, "Get the police to stop them."

"Those people own the politicians who gave them the land and the politicians pass laws so that they can get away with it and the police simply uphold the law, so that means the police won't do anything about it."

He pauses and thinks for a long time. "Well, somebody should stop them."


He thinks long and hard again. "Somebody should blow up their buildings."

Great, now I've created a radical eco-terrorist! "But if you do that then you are definitely breaking the law, even if you truly believe that your actions are correct and you go through all of the trouble to make sure no one gets hurt, even if what you did wasn't even close to the destruction and damage that they did, even then, they would put you in prison. They would happily put you in prison and that is not something that I would wish for anybody."

Especially my son.

So we have to fight with our words, our voices, make them heard. I'm glad Lucas is passionate about the environment, that he loves nature and wants to protect it. When I think of all the occupations I wish for him to achieve in life, environmentalist is one that would make me very proud. So I'm going to encourage him to follow his heart, the impulses within that guide him toward creating value instead of destroying things. If I can put my energy into parenting him with that in mind then I'll feel a lot better about the world of tomorrow.

p.s. I have a feeling that Lucas may identify with this movie more than I might be comfortable with...but we'll probably take him to see it anyway.

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