By Madronna Holden
Imagine the world we would live in (and what our children could look forward to) if we all held to the standard proposed by my student, Rachel Brinker, who recently wrote:
“Consider the effect of your actions on not only yourself, but your children, seven generations from now. I would like to base a paradigm shift in our culture on this concept, and I would like to extend this idea to seven continents, as well as seven generations. We should consider the effect of our actions on the next seven generations, on all seven continents. The distance between ourselves and the effects of our actions are vast when our economy is based on “externalities.”
“The convenient thing about globalization, for us in the western world, is that we get to enjoy all the new gadgets and goodies we could possibly consume without having to think about the exploitation of the people and the destruction of the environment, because those things are happening on the other side of the globe. The idea of protecting the next seven generations of your own kin is a good first step, but let us remove the idea of “other.” Let us see all seven continents as our backyard. Let us refuse to let ANY person’s quality of life be considered an “externality” of our economy.”
Abiding by this standard, we would attend to the stories of those we may not agree with — but whose experiences bring us closer to a true global community–as in this story passed on by another of my students, Carol Gift:
“Last summer, I went on a long fishing trip with an ex-Harrier jet pilot who flew in Iraq. He is very red (pro-Bush Republican) and so we are at odds on many issues. But one of the stories he told me was about a convoy he was in that was halted for some time, and when his guys finally found out what the holdup was, it turned out to be a little girl who’d sat down in the middle of the road next to a land mine to warn the soldiers it was there.
“Now, when I think of Iraq, I don’t think of some far-away war I’m removed from: I think of how it would feel to have my nine-year-old daughter sit down in a road in front of a land mine.”
“The more questions we ask and the more personal experiences we tap in to, the more hope we all have of shifting cultural paradigms and perspectives toward human compassion.”