When I was a little girl, I spent a lot of time at my grandparent’s house. My grandpa let me follow him outside quite a bit. Now that I have my own children, I think I know why. I was probably full of energy, got into everything, asked a lot of questions and drove my grandma nuts. So outside we would go. As I look back, those times with him are where I learned the most about the world. Not that he and my grandma had a grand estate with twelve ecosystems, far from it. They had a ten acre farm that was mostly a walnut orchard. Nevertheless, the lessons were big and I carry them with me today.
He would tell me about animals, show me where they lived. He pointed out danger. He whistled. He made up stories. He answered all of my many, many questions. If he planted a tree he would tell me all about it as he walked me to it. He made me care about my surroundings. He instilled an excitement about nature and new life. He was also willing to share with me the hard facts about loving animals as well. Dear furry friends did in fact die, and it could be really tough on the heart. My big tall grandpa hated to lose a pet. He also made no bones about the difference between pets and livestock. There were no tears shed over the little lambs who grew up to be sheep, then soon appeared on the dinner table.
I think about how lucky I am to have a grandpa like him. He is still alive and well, but so very far away. I wish my kids could walk with him, but they can’t, so I do my best to fill the void. I find myself whistling and telling them tales, or getting excited about birds, trees, and bugs. I have them help me dig in the dirt, or plant seeds for the garden. Those are moments that I treasure.
I guess what I am getting at is this: we need more effortless times of wonder with our kids. We need to get excited about rainbows, and rain, finding a bird’s nest, steering clear of snakes. There is a connection that is made with their surroundings. THEIR world. If you teach a child the proper order of things, they get it. In turn, they won’t grow up and destroy what is precious to them. I’m not talking about going crazy with worshiping the earth or joining a radical environmentalist group. I’m talking about a natural love and tenderness that grows for people, plants and animals, from the heart of the child. That is how you change the world. Put humans first. Take time to teach a small human. Then this beautiful garden we have been blessed with will only benefit.
You may say, “My neighbors are idiots and their children blow up their toys all day.” Well, if you can, be a positive influence on those wild kids. If you can’t, society will probably weed them out quickly and they will be housed in some sort of long-term facility. At least then maybe they can recycle something. Just skip the rhetoric, hate, and misguided legislation. Raise up a generation of passionate people. Better than any weapon, stronger than any army. Human hearts are an untapped, renewable resource! (But not suitable for fuel or food, let’s not go Soylent Green here people!)