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Childish about children: Parents need to engage more politically to save their children's world from destruction

This article is about how parents should not use their status as an escape route from political participation, but should step up that participation. Katie observes that there is a tendency to opt out with the arrival of children amongst the middle classes, which have important capacity for political effectiveness. The author wonders how parents can fail to be motivated as the world they came into is disappearing before their children's eyes.

Some statements from people who attended the first Victoria First meeting to organise against overpopulation and destruction of our environment.

Most of my friends are parents and many of them grandparents. They are inclined to show pictures of their grandchildren to each other on their on their smart phones when they meet, particularly if it is after a few months’ interval. They all say that each other's grandchildren are “gorgeous” and they relate the cute things that their own grandchildren do and say. But it is really is a case of “you need to have been there!” (to appreciate it).

There was about a 15 year phase when one group of friends talked a lot about where the children would go to primary school, secondary school and then what they would do after school etc. I would encounter this conversational theme repeatedly at dinners, at book groups, theatre and opera nights and sporting outings. Obviously these things are of great interest to people but it seemed that, what we as adults gathered together in the particular situation had in common or could continue to have in common was often subsumed by the need to relate what the next generation in each case was doing.

Meanwhile Rome burned

Do the childless tend to be more politically engaged?

The fact that most people I know have children or grandchildren is because most people do have children! The childless are in the minority. There are of course hundreds of notable parents amongst environmental warriors. But are there more childless people proportionally who are concerned about the world the children of the future will inherit than there are concerned parents in the general population? The only person at a recent dinner I attended who expressed to me a concern about the environment and population growth was a friend who has no children. Her concern was about the mess we are leaving for future generations. Her concern was really for other people’s children and grandchildren.

I have noticed that the more people focus on their children as food for conversation, the less they direct their conversation at what’s happening in the political or environmental arena. What is taking place in our local political and environment profoundly affects the future, the world of our children and grandchildren and is what we really we need to focus on as adults.

I am concerned about what is being left for all of us. Never before has the notion of “now” been more important. Our environment, our heritage is being ripped apart before our eyes. It is hard to know and comprehend the extent of what is happening. We gain glimpses in the media about the unraveling of our natural heritage- about logging and the threat to Victoria’s state emblem, the Leadbeater’s possum, about the ruin of Bastion Point, Malacoota, about the threats of local industry to the Great Barrier Reef etc. This knowledge is on a drip feed from the main media so we have time to recover from each disturbing revelation. It’s hard to take the destructive process in all at once and it would be overwhelming to many if they could.

A new agenda for parent get-togethers

I don’t criticize people for being vitally interested in the lives and personalities of their children and grandchildren, but when adults get together with other adults, it is a pity if the time is frittered away and wasted. For us “grown –ups” there is really no time to lose in being childish about children. Many of us used to play with dolls and we don’t any more. Maybe every social gathering needs to turn from a desultory gathering of amiable cronies, to an awareness and consciousness raising “happening” * ! Functioning adults need to lift their game. Our population in Australia is being undermined, overcrowded and robbed through an avaricious quest for monetary gain, exploited from all the jewels of our collective natural and cultural heritage. Those who want to squeeze every last ounce of profit from the beauty of our land before the proverbial “goose who laid the golden egg” expires do not care about the goose at all! They will go looking for another one and leave us with nothing but a dead goose. Adults, be on guard about this theft.

One would need to do quite a sophisticated scientific survey to find out if my casual observations of the apparent blithe nonchalance of many of the parents and grandparents of my acquaintance have any application to the population at large. Even if they don’t, it seems that lots of laid back parents and grandparents need to assert themselves as adults if we are to have any hope of saving the situation. I believe, that not only will they be more fulfilled if and when they do , they will really be doing something for those “gorgeous “ children they love and will be fulfilling their rightful role as elders in the community.

*archaic term from the hippy era.

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Comments

Information to tell your relatives or friends.

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Appoint an executor of your choice and prepare your Will. It is extremely important and ensures your estate passes to your beneficiaries not a Government Department.