There are so many things that you and I can do to help our planet and society, but which is the most important? Is it consuming less, much less? Eating foods with lower water and carbon footprints? Driving less? Being more tolerant of other religions, cultures, and beliefs?
While these are important, in my opinion, the single most important thing that you can do is to motivate and teach our children to live sustainably.
If you are actively involved with toddlers, young children, or teenagers then, whether you like it or not, you are part of their sustainability education. One aspect of this education is the type of role model you are. Your actions, or in-actions, are constantly being registered in their young minds. The other part of this education is through teaching them. Though they will pick up some information in their formal schooling, you have the opportunity to supplement this with more detail and to cover areas that may have been missed.
If you want to make sure that all your hard work has the maximum impact, you will also want to develop a few traits in your young apprentices. The first is to make sure that their sense of entitlement does not get too strong, and the second is to ensure that they do not become too dissociated from nature and society.
If you are planning for a year, plant rice.
If you are planning for ten years, plant a tree.
If you are planning for a century, educate children.
If you aggressively re-cycle and take the time explain to children why, they will consider it important. If you do not recycle, or only recycle things that have a dollar value associated, children will see recycling as something they do not need to do either.
The role model you choose to be does not just revolve around eco-friendly activities. Your involvement in the community, advocating businesses and governments to do more, showing humility, demonstrating gratitude, and your tolerance towards different cultures, races, and religions are all observed by these young minds. Treat people with respect, your child will notice it. Remember that it takes a village to raise a child. You are not just a role model to your children, but to all children of your community.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, then they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
– Nelson Mandela
In future installments of this article we will take a look at the topics of dissociation, entitlement and teaching.
If you found this interesting, you may want to take a look at my new non-fiction book “Feasible Planet – A guide to more sustainable living” or my eco-fiction series “Percipience“. The electronic version of the first book in this series, “2022“, is permafree.