A friend and newly graduated family physician told us a story about a young man who came to his clinic for medical advice. The young man was having a hard time adjusting to being away from home for the first time, and to his first full-time job, and was considering quitting and returning home. Our friend’s advice to this young man was to take two “man-up” pills every morning, and hang in there for a while longer.
I’m not going to comment on the medical validity of this advice, but it does seem to me that it’s good advice for all of us in North America these days. We are starting to reap what we’ve sown, with our callous disregard of the ecosystem that gives us life. Human beings need clean water, clean air, and a stable climate to thrive, and we’ve put all of these in peril with our burning of fossil fuels and our political apathy. Our relentless search for harder and harder to access oil has led to mountain tops being blasted off for coal, the poisoning of our aqueducts to frack for natural gas, and the destruction of the Canadian boreal forests in search of bitumen from tar sands. It’s hard to accept responsibility for this – we all love our children and work tirelessly to keep them safe in the short-term. Yet it’s time for parents and grandparents to take two “man-up” pills each and every morning, and to actively work to salvage a livable climate and planet for future generations. It’s our inter-generational responsibility, our “Great Work”. Hopelessness, apathy and cynicism are luxuries our children cannot afford.