I recently heard someone sigh and say that the word “sustainable” is getting almost a bit cliche. I was a bit traumatized hearing it, actually! Now is the time to maintain, and build, our momentum, towards addressing the things that matter most. I think sustainability is the fundamental lens through which we need to look at our current issues, and it’s a word I want to hear even more frequently, at all levels of culture.
Parenting and sustainability go together, because we love our kids so much that we want their lives to be long, perfect, and full of beauty and love. We know that scary things like global warming, food security, child labour, and war, threaten that vision, and so parenthood inspires people to look deeper and care more about things that may have seemed far away, in place and time, before they were parents.
Sometimes we think that the concept of sustainability means the same as “green” but it’s a much broader concept. Sustainability means that we build systems that nurture themselves, and nurture the things we care about, so that the systems replenish themselves, keep producing the result we want, and self-perpetuate for a long, long, time.
Here are some areas that I hear parents tell me that they think more about since they became parents…
They start thinking more about the Earth and our climate and what we can do about it.
They start thinking more about peace.
They start thinking more about political systems.
They start thinking more about how everyone, around the world, is someone’s child, and they start caring more about things like child labour, war, and famine.
And here’s what I think…three things.
First, parents hold the keys to our future, as they give their children the hope, inspiration, and opportunities to develop the needed skills to solve the problems that humanity has created for itself.
Second, we parents show our children what is worth caring about through our actions and our words. Your children watch you and absorb what they see and hear. Your everyday actions make a profound, long-term difference in your child’s attitudes, perspectives and values.
Third – and this is My Thing – building sustainable relationships is key. Each and every child that knows how to problem-solve with a team and work with others to find solutions that work for everyone involved is a piece of the sustainability puzzle. These are leadership skills, war-ending skills, world-changing skills that matter. These skills and values empower children to build sustainable relationships in their own lives, and to lead others to learn these skills, and sustainable relationships make EVERYTHING easier to fix. To be frank, without sustainable relationship skills, we don’t have much hope. And when we give our children the long-term perspective and empower them to see themselves as part of the solution, we have more than hope – we have possibility.
So, as parents, YES, be green! Be eco-friendly! Be local! But don’t stop there. Focus on the communication and relationship skills – in your family and in your lives – that will tip the scales. The more human beings who can mediate, inspire, find the underlying needs, and successfully create synergistic solutions that truly work for everyone involved, the more hope we have for our collective future.
It’s the only way.
This quote gives me chills…
“The Twentieth Century will be chiefly remembered by future generations not as an era of political conflicts or technical inventions, but as an age in which human society dared to think of the welfare of the whole human race as a practical objective.” ~ Arnold J. Toynbee
The welfare of the whole human race as a PRACTICAL OBJECTIVE! So much power in that realization. So much inspiration. So much hope to share with our children, and an incredible glowing vision to inspire us, over and over again, to dig deeper, practice more, learn to bypass our triggers, and, over and over again, show our children empathy, respect, and commitment to advocating for their needs equally with our own.
The welfare of the whole human race is truly within our grasp, and each of us is a piece of this brilliant puzzle. I’m inspired daily by you, as we work together towards this big, big dream.