Kids are lenses of hope for future of the world
COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, September 15, 2004
The recent terrorist slaughter of children in Beslan, Russia, resulted
in some serious responses from our coffee companions. One set of responses,
in particular, really caught my attention.
Keith and Kim Rowe live west of Cochrane. As a couple, they have given
considerable thought to the rise of terrorism and what they can do about
it within their own family and community.
Last week they attended a Calgary lecture by Thomas Homer-Dixon, director
of the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University
of Toronto. He dealt with the biggest challenges of the coming decades,
Keith said: energy shortages, environmental changes, and terrorism. Reflecting
on that lecture in the context of the Beslan slaughter, Keith writes:
IT IS MY opinion that the rise of these factors to prominence is the
result of our short time horizon the distance into the future
that we are planning. With few exceptions, we think just to the end
of our individual and collective noses, instead of decades or generations.
Let's say I'm looking to buy a brand new, larger vehicle, and move
to a larger house in the country. How will these purchases affect the
levels of carbon dioxide and other noxious gases during my grandchildren's
lives? How will my increased energy use affect my grandchildren's access
to gasoline, natural gas, steel, wood, electricity, and most importantly,
Am I enabling foreign policies which will create more hatred against
the Western world, and therefore increase the frequency of terrorism
in the future? Will my seemingly benign lifestyle choices ultimately
benefit my grandchildren, or place them at greater risk?
I suggest that the last set of questions is never asked. They seem
too far-fetched, too "out there." But until they are asked,
and a change occurs in our time horizon, we will continue to cause,
and then react to, the latest crisis.
By the way, I'm just a guy who would like to see a world in which
my grandchildren can breathe, drink, and not fear their neighbour.
SUBSEQUENTLY, Kim added to her thinking on the subject by attending
a symposium on what Alberta can be like in 2025. She writes:
WE HAD A great day of discussions during which I struggled, as I often
do, with how to translate these many "ideas of excellence"
into my daily life and into concrete action.
For me, as a human, it matters that kids on the other side of the
world died in senseless violence. But what do I personally do about
it? How do I effect change to make this a better world? For me, it helps
to do this with my own children in mind.
My kids are my greatest challengers and challenges. They make me a
better human, because I need to think about them and their future. And
about how my actions and behaviours will affect them and their future.
They are the lenses through which I can focus my hope for the future
of our world. I need to show them, by example, how our love for each
other and the world in which we live will overcome fear and hate, whether
it is on the playground or around the world. Our actions and our personal
responsibility will demonstrate our commitment or lack of commitment
to these ideals.
For example: "You hit your brother, therefore I, being bigger
and more powerful, will hit you back" doesn't work. And in the
same way internationally, "You harboured/are terrorists, therefore
I, being more powerful, (will go against the world body of the United
Nations and) will invade your country with force" doesn't work.
We must decide instead to respond with love and compassion even, or
maybe more importantly, to those that challenge our ideas of what is
THANKS, Kim and Keith, for letting us inside your hearts on this important
topic. What you are saying has everything to do with attitude. Over the
next few weeks I'm hoping to share in this column what others are doing
to approach the future with a good attitude.
© 2004 Warren Harbeck
Return to Coffee With Warren home page