Wednesday, May 28, 2014

How Today's Children Are Making a Difference for Tomorrow

I have often heard it said that we are preserving the world for future generations. That what we do today, will in fact, have an impact on our children and grandchildren. 

Sounds good, right? 
Well, I'm not so sure anymore.

Are we really doing the changing or is it our children?

Who is preserving the world for who?

I read about it almost every day now. I see more and more stories of children making a difference; children doing something that makes me want to do more. Just the other day I read about Landon Clark, a 10-year-old boy in Oregon, who collected change in his coin jar to help save the orangutans. Landon raised $164.07 for the Oregon Zoo Foundation; but more importantly, he created awareness about the palm oil crisis in his community. This is a child teaching other children and adults about making a difference.

Children in Nepal are working with the Red Panda Network to help save the endangered red panda. A group of sixth grade students know that red pandas live in the jungle near their village, yet many of the children have never seen one. Again, a story of school children making a difference for conservation and fighting to end extinction.

The dictionary defines the word environmentalist as "any person who advocates or works to protect the air, water, animals, plants, and other natural resources from pollution or its effects"  - What I see today are young environmentalists. What our parents may have called hippies or tree-huggers 40 years ago, are today, what we call wildlife heroes.

Could today's children be the new generation of "hippies"? Making a stand for the earth to come before big business, a stand for what they believe is important? If so, who are their teachers?

I do not consider my parents environmentalists and I do not remember talking about endangered species or climate change at the dinner table. However, these are the exact topics that my son and I talk about every day. Am I part of the generation gap?

Could my generation be the teachers? If so, who taught us? Was it the uncle who everyone called the hippie because he went to Berkeley and had long hair? Was it the friend who loved nature and photography? Or was it just me who loved the ocean and grew up wanting to save the dolphins?

Is this a cycle that repeats itself every other generation? Like a wheel that keeps turning, only to get stronger and faster with time.

I know that I influence my son and his passion for wildlife. I support his choices and encourage him to keep making a difference in the world. He is only 11, but just like the other children his actions are creating awareness and making a difference. These children are preserving the world for us just as much as they are preserving it for future generations.

Our children might just be the ones having the impact on us. What do you think?

We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors; we borrow it from our Children.

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