What are our schools teaching our children about their individual roles as consumers? Is the durable future and sustainability replacing mindless materialism? If not, why not?
What do they learn from history about societies and civilizations that have failed when they live out of balance with their soil, their water, forest or plains where they once lived and thrived?
In their science classes, do they study the wonderful chemistry of compost and humus, and the high cost of the increasingly rare minerals we extract from third world countries for our i-Pods/Pads/Macs and the exchange we make, sacrificing song bird species for cheap Big Macs from South American rain forests turned to pasture?
Do their teachers explain to them that the world is finite and its ability to rebound from insult is limited and that, while progress is possible without growth, unlimited growth in the usual Chamber of Commerce sense of the word is simply not possible when human numbers, individual usage footprints in “developed countries” and the chemical-and-energy systems of planet earth have reached–or exceeded–their carrying capacity?
Is their education all about ways to do less and have more? Do they learn how they can relearn what their great-grand parents knew of gardening and food preservation, heating with wood, animal husbandry and living with rather than at the expense of their local landscapes?
And from those earlier generations they know of only from scratchy sepia snapshots, do they know how much they read from books, talked face to face, gathered for worship, music and simple conversation and took strength, hope and comfort from what they could do in small, close groups that they could not do distracted inside their own heads, their own rooms and their own counterfeit realities that ignored all but self?
The Lorax is a very short story. It prospered in its devastation for a while. Is that the part of the story they hear?
If we don’t change The Story our children learn before they’re 10, we can’t expect them to live happily ever after at the end of it.
Take a look at YES magazine’s collection of lesson plans, articles and thought experiments on sustainability. This is for real, folks. This is not a drill. Pick up a trowel and go to work. Plant seeds.
Generous is the man who plants the forest, knowing he will not sit in its shade. — Chinese proverb