The World Is Changing, Are You?
With our planet truly in trouble, it's time we start making meaningful changes with our families.
As I sat in a sea of wrapping paper and toys after my kids opened their Christmas presents, I couldn't help but feel a little sad. While their joy lit up my heart (and the hearts of watching relatives), I felt in my gut that what we're doing is unsustainable. Sure I worked hard to be strategic about what I bought — but I still bought more things that will eventually add to the trash on our planet and I certainly didn't have any control over what everyone else bought. And, on the surface, I understand why some people might not share my concern.
We've gotten used to Christmas being a certain way throughout our lifetimes and we want to see our children (and grandchildren) experience the same excitement. I get that. Still, our planet can't sustain our consumption habits forever. This is already evident by the apparent tipping point of global warming and the catastrophic events like fires and superstorms. The world is changing before our eyes.
This isn't a new feeling for me. I've tried to scale back for Christmases before. I've mindfully thought about how I want to structure presents for my kids so they won't get used to having too much and then suddenly feel like there's not enough someday. Still, I find myself unable to resist a little here and a little there — and as for the grandparents, I haven't been able to convince them all to join my team (as I good heartedly understand).
So, where does this leave us? The Amazon rainforest is on fire. Australia is on fire. My home state of California is taking a winter break from being on fire. There's a trash island in the ocean twice the size of the state of Texas. I worry for my children's future. I want them to grow up and be able to have families of their own. I hear my older daughter's hope for many children and I find myself silently praying she gets to have at least one — and that her child is able to do the same.
I'll stop there with that. It's depressing. It's not new. Most of us know these things and quietly accept them as true, but still we generally make the same decisions each day, month, and year that are adding to this planetary emergency. I know I'm part of the problem in many ways. I like to travel. I drive a gasoline-powered car. The list goes on. Nonetheless, even my IG feed isn't safe from catastrophes these days. I see pictures of firemen carrying koalas and mothers holding their children on smokey beaches while I sit comfortably in my living room. I guess it's hard to stop thinking about these things once you start down this road, but it leaves me with a solid question: If the world is changing, what are we doing to change with it?
We can't just keep doing the same things while we watch the world burn. Or at least we shouldn't. That's my call to action for 2020. While I still haven't completed my yearly vision for the future (my version of resolutions), I know deep in my bones that the world is changing and now is the time for us to start changing, too. We're going to have to accept that things aren't going to look the same for our kids as they did during our childhoods. Can we indulge a bit here and there? Yes, but we're going to have to make big changes.
For my family, this means using less water, practicing fire safety, consuming less, avoiding plastics, and maybe even homeschooling someday (although that has less to do with global warming and more to do with simply accepting change). I keep putting homeschooling off as slightly radical because I want my children to experience the community of a school, but I truly don't know what the future holds for us. I value the flexibility of homeschooling in an uncertain world (don't even get me started on gun violence at schools). I'd also like to live somewhere that's still slightly rural (like we do now) but where I don't have to go to sleep afraid of fires starting in the night. This might mean leaving California. I simply don't know.
But maybe if the world is changing, it's time for me to change my expectations of what childhood looks like. Their lives are going to be different, period. Different doesn't mean without joy, it just means letting go of how things used to be done. And, truly, this is going to look different for every family on our planet.
Bottom line: The world is changing and it's time for us all to start adapting in our own ways.