By Bryan Haze
If we could gaze into the future of seven generations from now, how will they perceive our choices and thinking?
When we die will we leave this planet, our planet, a better place than we found it? As we see lives and species in peril, can we truly justify whether we are helping or harming the planet as a global society? Life does not live in a vacuum. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, but there is such an emphasis today on living in the moment, to be present, and to focus on ourselves that maybe we tend to forget that we do not live only for this moment. Our actions affect our children, for example, but also their children, and so on and so on.
When I was in high school, a friend of mine and I were driving down a long rather deserted road in a midwestern rural area. We had just finished eating food from a fast food restaurant and had our paper bag sitting next to us. All of us a sudden, he grabs the bag and rolls down the window. I wonder what he is doing, but before I know it, he throws the bag out the window.
“Why did you do that?” I asked. “Why did you litter?”
His response was rather pragmatic. “I am giving the inmates (who come by and clean up the trash alongside the road) something to do,” he remarked.
Do you ever look back on previous decisions, previous generations even, and wonder what were they thinking? Hindsight is 20/20. It is easy to reflect, judge, and wonder why more people did not respond, act, or react, in a better more responsible way.
I can reflect back on my friend in disdain for throwing out our trash onto the road, but what about me? What could I have done differently? If I was so offended by his actions, why did not I, as the driver, simply turn around and go pick it up myself?
What are we doing today to either help, or hurt, ourselves in our planet not only today but for generations after us? What mess are we ourselves leaving? While it may be 20/20 in the distant future, we are often blind in the moment as we often are not logical in our decisions but instead are dictated by emotions.
My emotion with my friend was fear. I was more concerned about my friend’s reaction, and him not liking me, than I was of my opinion of myself and doing what I logically knew was the right thing to do.
What if we asked with every decision we make if we are helping, or we are hurting, not only with ourselves, but with our friends, family, and our environment, for generations to come? How would that change our decision making?
When speaking to my friend now, would he see things differently or would he do the same thing over again? Would I?
Would we, if we could? Or, do we continue doing as we always have?
In two rather parallel, yet separate conversations, one friend told me that it really does not matter if they recycle, reuse, or reduce, because he is only one person and it really does not matter anyway. The same was said by another friend who said basically the same thing about voting.
We are inching closer to national election day. It will be here before we know it. Some will say that they do not like either candidate, so what is the point? Others will say I really like this third party candidate, because they are the most aligned with my thinking. I saw yesterday someone posting that it is unrealistic to think that voting will make any difference.
The point is that voting dictates policy and legislation, which especially concerning the sustainability of the planet, are we either helping or we hurting? We can either be a part of the solution or a part of the problem, as the saying goes. It is natural to become despondent, frustrated, but when we cannot become hopeless.
There are politicians doing amazing things for the community. Local politicians do not get the publicity that national ones do, but they are no less important. They are literally serving our community, and both locally as well as nationally, there is much to be gained by making one’s voice heard through the voting process.
It may not seem like we make a difference whether it is through recycling, reusing, and reducing, or whether it is through voting. They are intertwined though. As I write this, I’m saddened to say that the Amazon rainforests are losing about 3 football fields per minute, due to fires. Future generations are depending on us, and do we really want 7 generations from now to have a legacy that has them asking, “Who left us this mess?”