Yes, children: Help the world. Think of the ways. Walk more. Don’t litter. Plant a tree. Recycle your pop cans. If you don’t, everything will die and we will all choke to death. Including puppies.
Something about the way we teach ecology to children rankles. They can be worked into a frenzy over juice boxes. Taught to fear asphyxiation if parents idle their cars beside the school waiting for the final bell. Are willing to pick a square of cellophane out of a garbage bin for the sake of recycling.
Why so much pressure on the kids, when the greater reasons for life-threatening, world-ending pollution rest in the hands of the polluters and the politicians who enable and bless them?
Certainly every little bit helps. It is important to recycle, to value trees and plants, to be aware that small changes add up.
But I don’t remember, as a child, being unable to sleep because the glaciers are melting, or having a panic attack when a juice box ends up in the trash can. Guilt and hopelessness make us panic and give us insomnia. Let’s stop loading the responsibility for a clean future, if we have a future, on six year olds.
Let’s teach them a little bit about ethics and civics. Give them relevant information that allows them to assess choices in the products they use. Let them understand the power of the consumer and of the vote and, yes, even of peaceful resistance.
Children aren’t stupid. I’ve worked with children and they constantly floored me with their wisdom and common sense. Let’s arm these children, sensibly and without terror, with the tools they need to face a real crisis and transform a future that is not as bright as it should be, or as bright as they deserve.