Saturday, April 26, 2008

Happy Belated Earth Day!


In keeping with my procrastinating nature (you never did get that birthday card in the mail, right?), here's my post on ED 2008.

So last Tuesday I hauled 17 kids off to La Reserva Ecológica in our school's "backyard"
for a gorgeous romp through the wicked wild. Earlier in class I'd shown them these cute little shorts from PBS Kids EekoWorld when right in the middle, I noticed one little girl sitting there with soft, muffled sobs. I was all, "oh honey, why are you sad?" and she goes, "because my parents work in oil." Actually, more than half my students have parents with Chevron or Petrobras or the like (the others mostly with multinational corps), and it dawned on me right then & there that I also needed to present a clipped version of All Good Things That Oil Enables in the World (my favorite being the ability to hop on a plane and experience another culture firsthand--yes, I know it's facile but these are first graders after all). It's a reflection of my getting old but I think so often moderation and tempering go missing in environmental talk, the strident, shrill extremist tone of The Story of Stuff being just another example.

But I get it. When I was 20 and spraying factory farms with "Meat is murder" and leafleting I too felt the apocalyptic urgency of our downward-dog planetary trajectory. I had laser-like contempt for all drivers-cum-oil-guzzlers
and meateaters and Republicans and suburban dwellers and malls and cheerleaders (ok, a peeved bias I can't let go off), but these days my mantra playlist shuffles between It's Not That Simple and Nothing Is Black and White to You Lost That Loving Feeling.

I have a clear memory of debating with a professor in law school about indigenous whale hunting (I was opposed to the killing of all animals for any reasons with the supreme smugness that youth is afforded). How he managed not to club me on the head for my insufferable know-it-allness I still can't fathom. What is cool about the passing of time, not just for an individual but for a generation, is that issues that seem debatable develop less clarity, like a reverse Polaroid, while certain ethos gel (if I'm making sense). The kids I'm teaching today came out of their mama's hoohoos soaking in an amniotic fluid of earth consciousness. It's a given for them that taking care of the planet matters. So while the trees in the debate need to be further bandied about and tagged, the forest is a given. And that's a good thing.

5 comments:

Ken said...

I would note that the flipside of being born into a world of higher earth consciousness is it can cause the child to take certain things for granted. "The forest is a given" can have a more damning context.

theshortestfuse said...

i was using that as a metaphor. "the forest is a given" = "we need to take care of the planet," though individual mileage may vary. i'm not sure what a damning context might be for a generation with higher earth consciousness...could you explain?

Ken said...

I just meant when something is a given, people often don't make the same effort to preserve it.

theshortestfuse said...

no, THAT is the argument for our generation and was my point in this post. WE took the planet for granted so may not have thought it necessary to preserve it.

these whipper snappers, otoh, don't have that same problem. unless you're going all meta on me and think because they have a given earth consciousness they may not feel it nec to do anything but this is a self-defeating argument, like saying if something was born a fish it might forget how to swim.

Marion said...

These kids don't appear to take the Earth for granted, at least the ones I am in contact with. My granddaughter tells me it will take a long time to clean the Earth and after it's clean, it will take forever to maintain it. She's eleven.

Good post, thank you!