It is good to realize that if love and peace can prevail on earth, and if we can teach our children to honor nature’s gifts, the joys and beauties of the outdoors will be here forever.Jimmy Carter
Earlier this month, Jimmy Carter celebrated his 95th birthday. I was a child when he served as 39th President of the United States, so I don’t remember much about his term in office. What I’ve since learned is how much wisdom he imparts and what an excellent example of service to country he offers us, even at his advanced age. What I didn’t realize until I found this quote is how insightful he is about the survival of our natural world and our role in preserving it.
Failure to notice nature
I think I frequently failed to notice the beauty of nature when I lived in a big city. It’s easy to do when you’re surrounded by tall buildings, endless concrete, and people rushing to their next scheduled appointment. Maybe it’s happened to you, too.
But since moving to Palm Springs, I intentionally stand in awe of Mt. San Jacinto to the west every morning and evening when it’s time to walk the dogs. I make a point of looking up to the mountain to take in the beauty and grandeur of what nature has offered us. And I stop to think how grateful I am that San Jacinto is the protector of the valley I call home.
Imagine the consequences
But what if you never honor the wealth of nature around you? What if you fail to appreciate its beauty, vastness, or seemingly impossible stillness? Would you miss nature if it disappeared from view tomorrow?
Maybe you spend more than 8 hours each day sitting at your desk, not making time to look out the nearest window to take in the sky. Or perhaps your weekends are filled with errands and chores that render you void of any free time to appreciate of the world around you. Would you miss nature if it disappeared from view tomorrow?
For a moment, imagine the impact of not teaching your children to honor the gifts of nature around them; the impact of teaching your children that hatred and war are acceptable ways of existence. What kind of world would the next generation hand over to their children?
The contributions and responsibilities of humans
Now substitute people for nature – imagine the impact of failing to teach your children to notice and honor the contributions of people around them. What is the impact of promoting the idea that others are not important?
I hear people say they don’t want to live in a world where they pay for the mistakes of others. I can understand the sentiment, but the truth is we already live in a world where we pay for the mistakes of others. Likewise, we benefit from the successes of others – although perhaps not always in monetary terms.
Here’s an example of how we benefit from the successes of other people. Not too long ago, Elon Musk opened for all the patent for the technology behind his electric vehicles. He did so to make it easier for vehicle manufacturers around the world to make cars that do not burn hydrocarbons.
But what if you dislike the man behind the patent? Or what if you believe that preserving nature for the next generation is a worthless pursuit when there’s profit to be made today from fossil fuels? Please choose carefully, knowing every choice carries consequences, some of which we can predict and all of which will have an impact on the future generation’s life on this planet.
Jimmy Carter’s prescient observations about nature are staggering to consider. And if you consider that people have a large degree of control over the future course of our natural world, how much more staggering is the impact of failing to heed his words?