It was almost the end of October but high temperatures heated up across Southern California. It made me think about global warming.
Last month young people across this country organized strikes and marches in many cities, suggesting that adults have not done a great job looking after the planet and that needed to be changed. The series of inspiring events gave me—and many others—a speck of hope for the future. A great number of my mom friends enthusiastically took their teenagers and even younger children to participate.
Days before the strike in our city I asked my first grader if he was interested in being part of the movement. I told him that I would be happy to sign him a permission slip that was required by our school district. He said no, adding that the strike was “silly.”
I was surprised. Yes, he was only six years old but he knew exactly what the strike was all about. He also cared about climate change; he liked polar bears a lot and understood what the rising of global temperatures would affect his polar bear friends.
Yet he said no to climate strike. I wondered why.
“I don’t think the kids in our school really know what we need to do to stop global warming!” He said. “They don’t sort their plastics in school. They throw the crust away when eating pizza. They ask their parents to keep engine running and air conditioner on when waiting for them outside of school at pick-up time. And they are doing a climate walkout! What’s the point? That’s just silly!”
As he talked, he got faster and faster, louder and louder. He told me that many of his friends complained when our city banned plastic straw earlier this year. “When the grown ups say, ‘okay, now let’s not use straws,’ they are not happy. But now they are going to have a walkout to ask grown ups to fix climate problem! That’s just super silly!”
My heart sank. I thought my son was trying to say “hypocritical” when he said “silly,” but he hasn’t learned the word “hypocritical” yet. It did sound very hypocritical to me, but I believed what he described would only apply to a small number of the children.
Recently, however, I witnessed something that made me come to a realization.
At a local mom group I belong to, a member proposed that instead of using bottle water and paper plates, we should all bring our own drink and reusable table ware to future meetings. I seconded the proposal and expected it to be approved by the group without much opposition. But I expected wrong. The group voted no. Most members still preferred the convenience of bottle water, plastic utensil and paper plates.
Now I was feeling the irony that my son was feeling. Half of the members in the group took their children to the climate march, yet most of them would choose convenience over sustainability in everyday life.
There are adults who didn’t make climate-conscious choice in daily life but wanted to march and asked those who are more powerful—for us it’s global leaders—to fix the problems for us. There are children who wouldn’t make climate-conscious choice in daily life but wanted to have a climate strike and asked those who are more powerful—for them it’s adults—to fix the problems for them.
So we saw the irony lingering from global climate strike: In Boston, cardboard and paper “climate change” sign were found everywhere in trash cans on Boston Common. In Toronto, an idling truck promoting climate strike angered people.
Greta Thunberg inspired the world not because she organized the global strike, but because she lives according to her conviction. She is a vegan. She traveled by sailboat instead of flying. As for most of us, we travel and eat without thinking much about our carbon footprint and the actual consequences of our daily life in spite of the believe that climate change is an urgent threat.
Thinking of that, I was ashamed. My son was right. Awareness should be both knowing and doing. In addition to a strike, there were much more basic things that we could, and should be doing. Still, I think the climate strike was a good thing – better to have the right value, which might one day change what we chose to eat and eat with. We have to stay climate conscious after the strike.
Oh, and what we did on the day of our city’s climate strike? I walked my son to school instead of driving him. He made a “Save a polar bear! Do not keep your engine running when picking up/dropping off your children” poster, and posted in front of his little brother’s day care. No, we did not participate in the climate strike, but we tried to do our part.
April 29th will mark President Donald Trump’s 100th day in office.
As a foreigner, I have watched the news feeling extremely grateful that I gained American citizenship during the last administration. As a foreigner who looks of ambiguous origin and definitely not of any Caucasian descent, I wonder if I will ever be in the wrong place at the wrong time. As the mother of three children who mostly look African American, I wonder how their lives will be here in their own country. As the mother of one of my children whose last name is Arabic, and who could pass for Arab or Indian, I wonder if she would be red-flagged during travel. As an American citizen, I wonder where we are headed for, and to be honest, I feel like the magnitude of the situation is beyond our spectrum of understanding.
I do not tend to get into politics very often. I do my best to look at the character of the candidate before voting, without paying attention to the party she, or he, belongs to. However, this time the outcome of the presidential race was quite different than what most people expected, and so far President Trump has been in the news so much that even small children know his name, and some have not yet spoken or been too aware of the name ‘Obama’. It’s remarkably impressive.
With President Trump in office, it feels necessary to stay up to date with news of his actions, because one does not know what extreme thing will have happened between one day and the next.
A number of decisions that President Trump has made, ensure that some of us sit at the edge of our seats, or walk around the living room in circles with our hands on our hands, wondering if this is all an episode from the twilight zone.
If I may be honest, I really held, and in a smaller fraction still hold, hope for President Trump to be a great president. Why? Because he is not a politician, and being a politician is not a constitutional requirement to be a US President. When he was elected I thought that here is a person, specifically a white male in America who has money (so he won’t have to pay as much attention to lobbying influence), who sounds bold enough to make decisions that could cause some serious good change! A person who is a bit eccentric in his own ways, but that is not a bad thing. A person who gained the love of many Americans by showing them love and value. I felt that maybe his rhetoric was more on the side of … wrong, but that he actually will make things right, or improve upon what President Obama’s administration built.
However, with changes on the government’s take on climate change, health, internet privacy , immigration, travel from certain countries; but really the reasons behind the Travel Ban, separating the United States from Mexico, despite environmental issues that will arise (not discussing separation or blocking of people from entering the country), issues to do with Natives/First Nations and the bit of land over which they have sovereignty, I am no longer an idealist about what is going to happen.
(One can see a list of things President Trump has worked on as of January 30, 2017, by clicking here).
I wonder about the relationship between Americans of various ethnic backgrounds now that we are under this new presidency.
I personally know two people (one a child) who was insulted based on race, the day after President Trump was named president-elect.
I wonder how much the choices, that President Trump is making will impact American soil and the planet at large.
Planet Earth will always take care of herself, but I feel in her doing so, we may not fare that well.
So now, 27 days away from President Trump’s first 100 days, all I can think to do is pray. Sincerely pray for him every single day. I admit it sounds cliche, but I think it can only be so if it is not meant. I do not intend to hold prayer meetings for him, or ardently and with much effort be in prayer for him. I just mean, that every single day, I want to suggest to this amazing universe to put the thought in President Trump’s heart to make the right decision. Maybe it sounds like I care more about this president than others, but I really don’t. I do care about how they all make decisions. I just feel that as being one of the major players in how the world works, it is imperative that we all make a daily, prayerful suggestion that President Trump make the right decisions.
Have you faced similar feelings about the new president in your country?
Do you have any fears or concerns with regards to President Trump’s actions thus far?
Do you feel he can do a great job in leading this country and as a global team player?
Photo Credit: Flickr
When I was a teenager/young adult I wanted to change the world (as it happens with so many youngsters). And changing the world usually meant Doing Big Things.
Now, three kids and more than twenty years later, my saving the world efforts seem so distant. I grapple with alternating days when I stay home with the kids, sorting socks and washing dishes, and days teaching classes at the university, advising students’ research, and trying to do some research of my own.
At one point of my life I thought my career would be in the non-profit sector; i.e., I would be a professional environmentalist, forever. By then my volunteering efforts had evolved into parallel paying jobs related to social-environmental issues, and this kind of lifestyle went on for 12+ years.
I continued on to graduate school not because I wanted to become an academic, but because I thought it would be a great addition to what I already did. I found it exciting to go from project to project, often working on more than one at once. I felt almost repulsed by the thought of staying in the same job for the rest of my life, always doing the same thing. I even got a certain thrill from not knowing where my salary would come from after the current project ended.
My husband (who worked for the same NGO) was not as thrilled and dreamed of the day at least one of us would have a more stable job. Since I was already on the academic path in one way or the other, that person became me.
When I first became a professor I wasn’t overjoyed. Although I love to do research, teaching is a different story and it was very hard in the beginning. At this point I already had three children and the “saving the world” type of projects were in the past. Another dream that I tried to pursue (to become a professional writer) had also been buried. I sadly realized I wasn’t really passionate about anything anymore – except, of course, my kids.
By this time my husband had gotten a relatively stable government job, although he didn’t really love it. We were finally okay financially and we were living a comfortable life. Nevertheless, we began to question ourselves about our choices.
Were we still living according to the same principles we followed when we first met (especially in relation to the environment)? Were we fleeing our responsibility of making a difference in the world? Had we left our ideals aside for modern, middle class comforts? Were we still being true to our dreams?
At first I had a good excuse to avoid these issues because two of our kids were very small and I had to deal with all of the related motherhood issues. In parallel, I tried to make the most of my job focusing on the good things: stability, flexible hours, and the possibility of quantity time with my children even if that meant doing a lot of work at night and during the weekend. I told myself (and I still do), that there are many means to make a difference, even if in “small” ways.
After all, in practice, there are no real big things. Big things take place in small steps and often need more than one person involved. Also, what seems like small, local things, often involve a lot of work and may have a greater impact on the world than expected. No wonder one of the most popular environmentalist mottos is, “Think global, act local”.
Today, in my attempts to continue to be of service to the world, I try (for example) to be a good listener to my students because sometimes I sense they are more in need of a friendly ear than anything else. A great number of students suffer from depression and other related disorders, for instance. And it’s not that I serve as a psychologist or anything, but I frequently feel that just treating them kindly and making an effort to advise them extra well regarding academic issues makes a significant difference.
Yet the fact is, regardless of how we do in our present jobs, the sort of questions I listed before has been haunting us for the past few years. Now that our youngest is past three, these questions have resurfaced. The biggest issue that remains is how to be true to our dreams and ideals while at the same time guaranteeing enough food on the table (and healthcare, and a good education etc., etc.)?
This post will be continued in Part 2.
Please share your story below on how you have managed (or not) to follow your dreams, personally and professionally.
This post was inspired by two other posts: “Surviving the turmoil” and “My frame world”.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Ecoziva in Brazil.
Photo credit to Claremont Colleges Digital Library. This photo has a creative commons attribute license.
This week, as I was catching up on news headlines, a notification appeared announcing the 80th birthday of David Suzuki. David Suzuki is one of the most recognized and respected environmental scientists and activists of our time. And, he is Canadian – something I am very proud of. But when I shared this tidbit of information with my daughters, they didn’t share my enthusiasm. What I soon realized is that his name meant very little to them. How did this happen?
I remember being a child and thinking of David Suzuki as a homegrown hero. I would eventually study environmental science in university and graduate school, and then work as an environmental consultant. I think much of my career path was shaped by the Suzuki movement in Canada.
The very first fundraiser that I ever organized as a child was to save polar bears. Why were my daughters not feeling the same way? Sure, they love and respect nature, and spend their summer days exploring outdoors from dawn to dusk, but they were not nearly as passionate about environmental issues as I was when I was their age.
In response to this realization, I made a trip to our local bookstore and purchased a children’s book on climate change written by David Suzuki, himself. We then proceeded to hold mini-discussions within our family on various environmental issues. I have to admit, that I found it incredibly difficult. Climate change is scary. When you hear that a 2 degree Celsius change, in the global average temperature, can have devastating effects on the world in which we live, it underscores just how delicately balanced the earth really is.
Explaining this to young children is just as delicately balanced. How do you ensure they understand the severity of the issue, without making the situation terrifying and seemingly hopeless?
Through our discussions, my girls began to not only learn about the science behind climate change, but also about what they could do to limit their impact on the environment. They are becoming more and more passionate about environmental issues by the day. They now have countless ideas on how they can “help the environment”. One of their big concerns is parents idling cars in school pick-up zones. They plan on approaching their school to come up with a ban on idling, thereby reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It may be a small step, but it is a start. And, it allows school-aged children to not only have a direct part in reducing GHG emissions but also provides an avenue in which to have further climate change discussions at home, at school and within the community. I truly think that they understand the severity of climate change now, but their passion and commitment to change the future far outweighs their fear.
This all caused me to wonder how others, around the world, address the issue of climate change with their children.
Are there any resources or approaches that you use that others would benefit from knowing about?
This is an original post by Alison Fraser who is Founder and Director of Mom2Mom Africa.
The 2015 deadline for the eight Millennium Development goals is upon us. As of December 31st 2015 not all of the goals will have been met, but huge progress has been, and continues to be made. If anything the past 15 years showed what is truly possible with concerted effort and proper funding. The MDGs were set in the year 2000 by 189 nations, and the Millennium Goal Declaration was put in place as a step to alleviate extreme poverty around the globe. Negotiations of the Post 2015 development agenda are due to take place early this month, and will build on the progress made thus far through the 8 MDGs.
The next set of 17 sustainable development goals, which have 169 associated targets, are being referred to as the SDGs. The proposed goals are to end poverty, end hunger, achieve healthy lives for all, provide quality education, attain gender equality, empower women, and girls the world over. To ensure clean and sustainable water, sanitation, and sustainable energy for all. Goals include economic growth, resilient infrastructures, reduction of inequality between countries, to make cities safe, create resilient consumption and production cycles, urgently combat climate change, conserve our oceans, protect our ecosystems, create peaceful, inclusive and just societies, and strengthen global partnerships towards sustainable development.
On December 31st UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released his synthesis report of all the suggestions entitled “The Road to Dignity by 2030: Ending Poverty, Transforming All Lives and Protecting the Planet”, and broke the SDGs into what he referred to as 6 essential elements to serve as conceptual guides in the work of outlining the final goals. Here are the six key elements according to a press release issued by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on December 4th of 2014.
The first element is dignity: an essential element for human development, encompassing the fight against poverty and inequality.
Second is people: Millions of people, especially women and children, remain excluded from full participation in society. We must finish the work of the Millennium Development Goals.
Third, prosperity: We must develop a strong, inclusive and transformative global economy.
4. OUR PLANET
Fourth, our planet: We have an urgent duty to address climate changes and protect our ecosystems, for ourselves and our children.
Fifth, justice: to build safe and peaceful societies, and strong institutions.
And finally, partnership: because this agenda will be built on a foundation of global cooperation and solidarity.
These six broad categories provide a much more digestible approach to the 17 goals that will be finalized at the General Assembly in September of 2015. As #WorldMoms it will be our children, the next generation, who will carry through many of these goals, and be the ones help to innovate, execute, and hopefully see the end goal of eradicating extreme poverty by the year 2030.
What do you think of this new proposed set of SDGs?
This is an original post written by Elizabeth Atalay for World Moms Blog. She also writes at documama.org.