Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The forgotten life.

What does it say about us when one generation pity's the next?

Oh sure, our children's living standards are higher than ours as their lives are filled with flashy techno-gadgetry. Damn, look at the picture above, even aborigines nowadays have camcorders!!!But I am sure, like me, you also fear that our children's experience with nature is thinner, more constricted, and less fulfilling than our own.

Maybe many of you who had paid a visit to your childhood homes also has a heartbreaking experience, because you found out that your connection to the land around it has been broken. If I am not wrong, malls are filling in the vacant lots and woodlands where you used to play, also rivers and streams are channelized, and barren, and the lake sides, and mountains are spotted with trophy homes and locked gates.

It is sad, because by losing contact with the natural world we are losing something precious. In a way, we are losing part of what it means to be human. I grew up in the province, in the countryside, and I was dependent on nature's rhythm and to other living things. I learned and grew by climbing trees, catching tadpoles, picking flowers, making mud pies, hiding under hedges. Playing outside every evening until called home by parents and falling darkness, I develop a sense of my human community as part of the wider, natural world.

My kids in contrast, grew up in the city and I lament the fact that they seem to have no special connection to the outdoors. And how could they be expected to make one? They never have a chance to find the hole behind the log where they can hide their special stuff, or the damp spot in the meadow where the butterflies swarm in the summer.

With the rapid growth in commercialism, it's rarer and rarer for kids to have access to fields or streams or woodlots or even decent city parks, so instead of joyfully playing about outside they're offered a physically safe world of video games and television. As a result, nature and place are losing out to the virtual world. Who needs mud puddles when your computer can provide you with dozens of imaginary planets full of gory combat with scary monsters?

But computer screens don't teach our kids how to cooperate with their friends to get a boost up to that next tree climb, to hop nimbly from rock to rock, or reveal the mystery of tadpoles turning into frogs. Yes, of course, television still has its nature shows - mostly animals eating each other these days, but its primary lesson is about consumerism.

As a parent we should teach our kids to be more than consumers. If we can get them out in nature, they might find that they love the real world even more than they love electronic games or visits to the mall.

We all owe it to our kids to make it possible for them to experience the same happy connection that we have experienced with the natural world. That doesn't necessarily mean an ambitious backpack through alpine meadows or watching a mighty whale breaching at sea - it can be as simple as observing a garter snake in the grass or the flight of a butterfly.

Nature's still all around us, and who knows? The Earth-defender of tomorrow could be your child.


Tracey said...

You can't beat seeing a mucky kid in the countryside. It means they have been happily exploring and having a good time. City kids have no idea, I am pleased I grew up a mucky country kid, also my kids and grandkids!


Angry American said...

When I think back to when I was a kid, and how we used to play, then look around and see how much things have changed, it fascinates me and turns my stomach at the same time.

In general, I'm glad science has been able to begin finding some of the real answers to the big questions about the universe. But, there's way too much of mother earth being taken out just to make way for us. Even for the places and people who are finding some of those answers. The giant adom smasher is one example of that.

How much more of the earth's forests and animals are going to be wiped off the face of the earth before humans take their heads out of their collective asses and see what's happening? And when, if ever, will they put a stop to it?

I'm exluding myself only because I don't need a $150,000USD house in a suburb with a couple thousand dollars in electronics to be comfortable. I'd be just as happy, if not more so, living in a little grass shack on the beach. Or, maybe in a tree house with the other monkeys as neighbors.

Hell, look how long Tarzan has been living in the same neighborhood. You really think he gets that upset when his DirectTV goes out? All he has to do is look out the window of his tree house and he can watch animal planet for free.

Living with a poo flinger (Cheeta), on the other hand, is not my first choice for a room mate. I'm sure he keeps hiding the remote, changing channels durring Tarzan's favorite shows, and I guarantee you he never washes the coconut cups.

Odette said...

yes and tell amy not to complain if billy get dirty playing with mud. it's his own way of learning things!
but i do love that her family get to play outdoor a lot.

Odette said...

i so love the idea of a grass shack with monkeys as neighbor, hahaha! but not the thought of you in a g-string as that wont look good with an ostomy bag, would it?

oh yes, an animal planet for free, and discovery channel to boot!!!

this is soooo funny!!!

Sid Brechin said...

Very true that technology has changed things even more than we realize. I was an am very glad that my training included being able to go in the wild with only a good knife and live and live fairly well.

In some ways technology has reduced the gap between rich & poor in others increased it. For example most were there is even a small amount of technology have running water, some form of heat or AC and very least some kind of rectangle shaped light emiting mind numbing device to save us from the burden of thinking.

The other day I heard someone say that in the long run giving our kids a game boy may destroy more brain cells than a crack pipe.


A great post hun!! My apologies I haven't been able to get on here much in the last 24 hours, assignments are oozing from my pores. Brain dead.....
We played in the mud growing up. I loved the simple pleasures, like riding horses, I would spenf from morning to night with those magnificent beasts..

Mimi said...

Sadly, technology is not the only thing that is keeping our kids indoors. It is just not safe out there anymore. We have to worry about child predators, excessive traffic and careless drivers, drugs,gangs and their violent acts that claim innocent bystanders, and mentally disturbed people wandering our streets. My kids play outdoors, but they have to be watched and supervised every minute. It's a different world today than it was when we grew up.

Tracey said...

Ray could have a large loin cloth to cover his bag and bits......and you Odette, would look fantastic as his 'jane'!! Can I visit you both? LOL

Sheila said...

I grew up in the countryside, and it was not unusual to play outside all day. We had TV but it wasn't as good as climbing trees, fishing or making camps.
As more and more of the countryside is developed there will be less space, and fewer children able to enjoy the freedom we had.

living_with_ba said...

We're lucky, that where we live there is always something green to play on within walking distance...see my new post for my BIG news!

Odette said...

I see no new post, Joey!!!


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