As my youngest child graduated college last weekend, I sat sandwiched between my mother and daughter while my husband's camera clicked away. A sea of black caps with pink tassels faced the stage with heightened expectancy. Speaker after speaker approached the podium to impart pearls of wisdom to the graduates. They spoke of fueling passions, finding patience, proceeding with integrity, working hard, accepting failure, and being kind, grateful, humble and ethical. Each speaker concluded by noting the future belongs to the graduates.
I observed the young guys with their freshly shaved faces, and the flatly straightened hair of the young women, as they sat tall, cell phones in hand. They looked like the lungs of the planet - soaking it all in.
These children have experienced so many of nature's gifts: days at the beach digging for buried treasure, astonishing rainbows to paint, spring flowers to pick, trees to climb, bugs to catch, strawberries to gather, birds to feed, and stars to wish upon.
As parents, many of us have been fighting to protect the environment since before our kids were born. We've educated ourselves, and our children. We made sure they grew up with Earth Day, and learned about the issues of conservation, pollution and climate change. We taught them that our planet comes with a simple set of instructions:
Take care of the water, land, and air.
Even those of us who have given our children deep ecological roots, somewhere along the line these simple instructions have been misplaced...
WATER POLLUTION has come about because of the dumping of chemical, biological and physical matter into the oceans, rivers, and streams. This has polluted our waterways and degraded the quality of life for people and wildlife who depend upon clean water. We discharge into U.S. waters 1.2 trillion gallons of sewage, storm water and industrial waste every year.
LAND POLLUTION has eroded the Earth’s natural surface. Industrial, commercial, domestic and agricultural activities have caused the land to lose 24 billion tons of topsoil each year. Some energy practices disrupt natural fault lines, pollute drinking water and accelerate climate change.
AIR POLLUTION is produced from energyemissions that accumulate and spew hazardous substances, harming humans and other living things. Every year, 335,000 Americans die of lung cancer. Air pollution is both physically damaging and costly.
When my family left the graduation ceremony, both my kids were "dying" for coffee (they had gotten up at the ungodly hour of 7AM). With the same urgency of "needing" ice cream as young children, they ran to get their caffeine fix. I noticed the blackboard on the wall of the cafe read:
"Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet." ~ Bob Marley
I hope the planet-saving roots that anchored so many of these young college graduates to fertile ground will not be shook to the core by greed, politics and apathy. The future is theirs and they are going to need to get very, very wet.
Credit: Jorge Mayet, Saatchi Gallery via Garden Design