EARTH and HEART, courage in action
Today our world is seeing unparalleled environmental change, from fires to contaminated water to unprecedented weather events of all kinds. Political and personal hatred and cruelty are becoming an insidious part of our daily lives and our children are the ones who have most to lose and still, I believe have most to gain.
Many years ago, while working for UNICEF in the Amazon region of Brazil, we started to notice a small trend emerging. What happened was that a number of forest communities had been deforested (trees either cut or fires or some combination thereof) and replaced with monoculture for either soy or palm. The traditional schools were ‘upgraded’ by the companies. Still, though, children were reporting something new in their communities. Domestic violence. Some of the kids, one community led by a courageous young girl by the name of Rosiclia, had a feeling that the violence might be related to the devastating loss of the forest and the way of life that had sustained their community for generations. Not being able to express these views in school, the kids started to form youth clubs with local churches and worked with their families and community members to spread love and kindness. We did find both the correlation between the violence of forest degradation and among the people. We documented this effect in three different communities. The youth clubs were not a magic bullet, but they did raise awareness, which led to incremental change.
In 2007, at my first climate change convention in Bali, a young boy told me that his chances of surviving severe weather event would be stronger than someone his age in my country. "Why? I asked?" Because he said ‘he loves the forest and he knows how to prepare water for safe drinking and how to build latrine in nature and what to eat? And we don’t. Wow.
Even Earth herself in the English language is comprised of the same letters as Heart. A person with a compassionate heart cannot throw garbage in a river, drain water from her veins or burn a forest.
Over the years no one really wanted to know much about this idea, which is why I’ve written so many manuals! Yet, today, as city water supplies are contaminated and storms are everywhere, and the United States of America is leaving the world hanging on a limb by pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Children and young people all over the world are taking to the streets and demanding their rights!!! I believe that they are born for this fight and will win. Which makes our role as environmental educators even more essential!
If we can help to empower the compassionate action of every kid with the knowledge and skills that they will need to create the heart centered new Earth that they… and we all so richly deserve… is more urgent and important than ever!!!
Thank you all so much for everything that you do!!!