Sunday, July 20, 2008

Babies - A Cool Way to Start People? A Guest Blog by GreenHearted

As someone who has no children of her own (although a beloved niece and two wonderful stepsons fill the void), I find myself feeling torn when friends and colleagues tell me they're expecting new additions to their family.

My first instinct, I admit, is complete joy for them. A sense of excitement about their new life adventure. I want to help find baby names for them. I look forward to touching mommy's tummy when she's seven or eight months along.
I know I'm going to want to spend time with the new little one's hand grasped around my finger -- basking in that newness and innocence. After all, as (Bill Cosby's) Fat Albert said, "Babies are a cool way to start people."

But as that initial blush of joy and excitement wears off, I start thinking other thoughts. Why would anyone want to bring a baby into this world, knowing the child's life is going to be carbon-constrained and climate-chaos-wracked? When that child is our age, there will be food and water shortages, and wars and conflicts everywhere because of those shortages.

Oh, let them feel their joy, I tell myself. Why wreck it for them now? Well, because that new (EuroAmerican) mouth to feed is going to take more than its share of resources and create more than its share of destruction. Why is my friend's baby, before it's even born, more privileged than babies in developing countries?

If I say something now, will it at least remind them not to go overboard with baby "things"? (As in, new baby = new consumer.)
If I say something now, will the parents help their new little one develop its innate love for the rest of nature (biophilia)? Will they say no to the TV shows, movies and computer games that disconnect North American children from their Mother Earth? Will they consider the health of the planet as they worry over their baby's health? Will they consider feeding their child an organic, locally grown low-on-the-food-chain diet so that what it eats doesn't eat away at its future? Will they think about the two billion people in the world without access to clean water as they're bathing their little one? Should I keep giving mini canoe paddles and Earth balls as baby gifts?

When my husband and I realized that we weren't going to have children together, he lovingly told me, "Now you can be the mother of all the children on Earth." I take my responsibility seriously. As a non-mother, I have far more time than mothers do to work on saving the future for the children — of all species.

So what should I say to my newly pregnant friends and co-workers — besides "Fiona's a nice name for a girl"?

Julie Johnston, GreenHeart Education

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