Every morning when I turn on my computer it opens to a news page. Most of the time that page is screaming at me about whatever was the worst thing that happened on earth in the previous 24 hours (or at least the most sensational). If the only data we had to go on was the headlines, it would be reasonable for us to conclude that violence and disaster are the norm and the world is spiraling downward.
The reality, of course, is much different. For every act of sensational violence there are countless acts of kindness and compassion. For every plane crash there are hundreds of thousands of safe flights. For every tragic death there are millions of healthy lives. Et cetera. When we see the headlines announcing the latest disaster or sensational violence maybe we all need to stop and remember that the reason those things are considered newsworthy is because they are so rare.
Arguably the biggest danger humanity faces right now is environmental degradation and the consequences of an unsustainable way of life. But even on that front I see plenty of reasons to be encouraged, and they’re not making headlines. There is an increasing awareness of the importance of sustainable living and increasing acceptance of less consumptive lifestyles. The food movement that has arisen in opposition to industrial agriculture is strong and getting stronger. People are putting chicken coops in their back yards. They’re starting to get more of their food from local farmers markets and they’re paying attention to how that food was produced.
I’m especially encouraged by the emphasis on sustainability in schools now. At many schools (and at many homes) kids are learning to garden. I expect they’re not going to follow the path our generation took, which has buried our society in debt and illness.
I believe that the seeds that are being planted now–seeds like school gardens–will come to maturity in today’s young people and they will begin to usher in the next phase of human existence, which will be kinder, more beautiful and more compassionate than any which has preceded it.
Terrible things will happen on earth today. Among those terrible things will be one terrible thing that becomes tomorrow’s lead story on the news.
Meanwhile, kids are gardening.