Protecting Our Future

The children are our future, the popular song tells us.  But as the fabulous Riane Eisler so accurately points out, why then do we pay our child care workers less than $10 per hour?  Where are our values really? Because that is where our money goes.  And isn’t it so often that our money goes out to pay for convenience? 

The pride of do it yourself, of crafting something by hand, and of eschewing waste with re-use, refurbishing or re-purposing has gone out the window with do more faster and even better, have someone else do it for you.  With just about everything.  When was the last time you grew your own food or churned your own butter – like so many did not too many generations ago?  When was the last time you bought your food from someone who still does these things, as opposed to from a more convenient factory farm to big box store arrangement …?  Heck, when was the last time you cooked your own meal — from scratch without opening any pre-mixed packages?

Two words come to my mind whenever I think about the future: clean and renewable.  Of course, I speak of energy production because it is the one thing behind our culture of convenience that seems the most at odds with my version of the future as an environmental activist – a truly healthy planet.  What if we all valued that a bit more and were a bit more concerned about how healthy the planet is that we WILL be leaving our children? 

How would what you do have to change?  Because it WILL take all of us.  This isn’t just about the utility companies or the government making decisions and changes to better our lives.  After all folks, we are the government and we are the utility companies as well as all the other businesses we patronize.  As Walt Kelly put it so well: “We have met the enemy … and he is us.”

How’s that you say?  Well, at least here in the U.S., we have the right and opportunity to vote the bozos in or vote the bozos out – or participate as one of them by being involved in government at any level.  That includes everything from writing to or calling your local, state and federal representatives all the way to, if you were born here, being the president (otherwise, the governor of some great state).  Isn’t that what we teach our children – that you, too, dear Johnny or Jayne, can grow up to be president of these United States? 

And you know that “market” they are always talking about?  Right again – that’s us, too.  We can vote with our dollars.  Instead of getting the lowest prices for the most amount of stuff, how about we cut back a little and maybe pay a little more for one or two items of higher quality: organic produce or fair trade clothing made from natural fibers not produced in some sweat shop overseas?  Can you say more with less?  And then how about using and reusing those items and making them go as far as we possibly can before they become disposable? Or even running our businesses in a more socially responsible way …?

(I’m thinking here of my dear husband, whose brimmed cotton canvas bucket hats become compass covers – he works on boats – when they no longer protect his lovely cranium … and then the shreds of what’s left of that natural cotton can be recycled.)

In my mind, we’ll have to gear up considerably to begin mastering alternative energy production methods that are, well … clean and renewable.  But I for one, think we are up to the task.  We, the voters and the market.  We will have to return to playing the role of citizens and conservationists, rather than consumers.  We have plenty of history and plenty of role models to teach us how … and we have technology to help.  At least until the oil runs out (if we don’t do something soon about that because we are really fouling this beautiful planet with what remains of the remains of dead dinosaurs).

If greenhouse gases – like auto exhaust and that from factory smoke stacks full of carbon dioxide and all the other chemicals we spew into the atmosphere – were a color rather than invisible, I think more people would notice and be appalled.  Hey, what if it looked like what’s spewing into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and killing the marine life that will end up in our food chain?  (Oh, and not to leave out the children … their food chain too, since these toxics persist and are multiplied as big fish and big bird eat little fish …)

Well, if you’ve got the picture now … here’s the good news.

We can return quickly to being citizens and conservationists – proud contributors and preservationists – with just a little added consciousness (and conscientiousness).  Along with clean and renewable, I’d simply ask that you add these words to your daily vocabulary as you exercise greater awareness about every thought and every action you take, every moment of every day.  I full well know that while simple, this level of consciousness is not easy to master in practice.  So that’s why it becomes a practice. And that practice can become a movement.

While they may sound like small things, even seemingly insignificant (“who am I, I’m just one little guy”), these things all add up.  Shifting to this way of being and doing is actually a BIG job if you’ve ever tried it.  None of us will be perfect at it, but if you do it best as you can each step of the way with your life and work, and all the other people in government and industry do it best as they can each step of the way in their lives and work, or at least enough of us get it going so others can catch on and join in, then things can change significantly for the better.  And quickly … exponentially.

Then, if we use the intelligence and technology we have to focus on the production of clean and renewable energy sources, then we can be living in harmony with the planet thereby truly protecting our future.  (And no, nuclear is not among them until we can get beyond nuclear fission to nuclear fusion … and I think we can, eventually, if we’re consciously focused on that … but that’s much longer term, down the line.)

We’re at a point in a new era where this shift can happen.  It must happen.  As aptly noted recently by Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, at the EEPC India, Export Award Presentation Function, we did not leave the stone age because we ran out of stones …

Another great quote further illustrates:

“Memo to oil apologists: When VHS supplanted Betamax, nobody shed a tear.  When word processing software replaced typewriters, nobody shrieked about a socialist revolution in the steno pool.  And when the jet engine replaced the propeller, there were no protests on the Mall in Washington about a vast supersonic conspiracy. Face it: Technology changes.  And the petroleum-based economy is dead. It’s built on antiquated technology that’s killing us and our planet.  Oil has served its purpose.  It was great while it lasted, at it got us to a point where we have the industrial and technological wherewhithal to chart a new course.  But we’re no longer primitives who need animal fat to light our evening meditations, or chase away evil spirits.”  ~ Martin Luz in HuffingtonPost.com

Indeed, the universe has been beautifully set up for us humans by putting the biggest nuclear reactor we’ll ever need perfectly positioned at the center of our solar system, which in my humble opinion at about 93,000 million miles away, is about as close to nuclear technology as we humans need to be at this stage in our evolution.  But beautifully, that sun-reactor shines on this planet all day every day.  All we have to do is rotate around and collect it, store it and share it. And the rotating is already being done for us! (Think about how big that part of the job would be if we had to do it …)

With the brilliant minds of our leaders in technology and elsewhere, this is totally doable.  Just ask the children who draw pictures of this concept every day in grade schools around the world, and who are learning how to play nicely in the sandbox with others and to share their toys (then pass them down to the younger kids …).  That sunshine is in everything we know as life that is on the planet today.  It is begging us to be more consciously engaged with it.

And so is the earth.  Since we cannot see the dinofuels we’ve gassified and put into the atmosphere, it is now giving us a glimpse of what we’re doing by pumping millions of gallons of pure black crude into our oceans (and we have underwater cameras so we can watch it happen with full awareness).  I say oceans rather that Gulf of Mexico here because in their fluid state, the tar balls that have been put into circulation can now go everywhere on the planet to be cleaned up by everyone – after we focus on the massive efforts needed currently on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

What’s one thing you can do each day to make a positive difference and help return us to a world that’s clean and renewable?  Whatever you do will be your contribution to protecting our future.  And whatever it is, it is a valuable contribution.

Blessings for your efforts, Dolly

Legacy In Story

Remember last year’s Clint Eastwood movie, Gran Torino?  It is a story about the clash of deeply held cultures and beliefs, and about the common values of life that unite us all.  The story itself is one of legacy, as is Mr. Eastwood’s lifetime of work.

For whatever else it depicts, Gran Torino focuses in on how we impact others, how we are called upon to create that impact, whether or not we respond to the call, and what we leave behind to benefit them (that is uniquely ours to give) when we discover and feel called to give it.  The story is as powerful an example of legacy in development as any I can think of.  I wasn’t so crazy about the ending, but for purposes of the movie, it fit.

I was especially moved by an excerpt from the lyrics of the title song:

Your world
Is nothing more
Than all
The tiny things
You’ve left
Behind

So tenderly
Your story is
Nothing more
Than what you see
Or
What you’ve done
Or will become
Standing strong
Do you belong
In your skin
Just wondering

And I am wondering the same.  Do you belong in your skin?  Are you comfortable there?  Are you truly exercising your unique gifts and giving back from there to make the world, your little corner of it, a better place?

We have each been endowed with gifts and talents that we are especially good at, that may well be easy for us, and even enjoyable – that can also benefit others. Will you tap into the pure joy and personal meaning that comes with doing what’s easy and enjoyable for you … for others? It doesn’t take hard work to help others, just good work – the kind you’re ready and willing to do.  Will you grow into and become those attributes and consciously leave behind those tiny things that you can, or maybe even something more? Are you contributing to life in the ways only you are able?

Start by recognizing today all you are good at and all you are grateful for … then build from there.

The Who and The What of Legacy

The term legacy most often generates thoughts of “what.”  Some tangible thing produced and left behind.  I agree that some form of asset or artifact can be very much a part of your legacy.  But more important is the “who” behind the “what.”  That’s what makes the “what” what it is!

To me, legacy is about equal parts of “beingness” and “doingness.”  What is unique about you – who and what you love, what bothers and delights you? What are your “IVANMAERS”?

The term is an abbreviation for your interests, values, abilities, natural style, motivations, activities, environments, realities and stressors.  Can you begin to clearly identify these aspects of yourself?

Knowing what they are allows you to fully appreciate your individual gifts – the ones only you can contribute in your individual way, based on the unique design of your DNA and your life circumstances.  It makes you a true power to rekon with – not in the “win, kill and conquer” sense, but in the magnificent ability to “do” that only you possess.

“A bird sings not because it has an answer, but because it has a song.”
— Chinese proverb

From that perspective, there is no competition, there is only you and what you came here capable of doing.  Will you discover yourself and do it?