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Becoming Good Ancestors: Part 2.

Autumn blessings, friends! This autumn I’ve been reflecting on what being a good ancestor means to me. I hope my musings give you something to ponder as you consider for yourself what it means to be an honorable ancestor.

What does it mean to be a good ancestor?

I think becoming a good ancestor is both a collective responsibility and a deeply personal quest. The very nature of leaving behind a kinder, healthier world for future generations involves all of us. No one gets to sit this task out! However, what we are called to do and who we are called to be in the specific time and place we find ourselves is a journey each must undertake for themselves.

We are response-able.

No discussion on being good ancestors would be complete without addressing the climate crisis. Becoming good ancestors assumes we have sustained a healthy habitat for future generations.

Climate change is one of the most polarizing topics of our times. However, it is necessary we talk about it… especially with those who do not agree with us. That is what good ancestors do. They talk things out.

According to NASA, “Direct observations made on and above Earth’s surface show the planet’s climate is significantly changing. Human activities are the primary driver of those changes.

What was formerly and “inconvenient truth”, as Vice President Al Gore proposed, is now a tough pill to swallow.

Blame and shame are ineffective tools for teaching and communication. Blame feels overwhelming and shame shuts folks down. Taking responsibility is a healthy, healing alternative.

Culturally, I think we have a difficult relationship with responsibility because we think it means, “This is all my fault!” Again, with the blame and the shame. This is most unfortunate because taking responsibility for our part in things is an empowering act. To take responsibility for our actions means we are able to respond.

Know better? Do better.

Here are some examples of how I take responsibility for my role in the current climate crisis:

  • Educate myself about the problem from reliable sources. (NASA is one of my faves!)

  • Research the products I consume and the companies I purchase from. I try to choose to support the most sustainable products and companies I can with the power of my dollar.

  • Support politicians who make the climate crisis a priority. This includes the local level! Sometimes we get so caught up in what is going on nationally that we forget to pay attention to the policies of our own state, city, and neighborhood.

  • Cultivate a friendly relationship with the earth. Spend time outdoors. Give gratitude for nature’s beauty. It is difficult to abuse Mother Earth when we stand in awe of her.

  • Accept my position of privilege as a white American woman. Let’s face it. I have not lived my life as kindly to the earth as, say, many of my Indigenous sisters have. Is it my fault that I grew up in an industrial community? No. And I wouldn’t say it is inherently a bad thing, either. But change is required in order for industry to be sustainable, which up to this point, it hasn’t been. Now that I know better, I endeavor to do better.

Sometimes it is tempting to judge people who disagree with my viewpoints of the climate crisis. When I notice this happening, I try to keep in mind that even while he was dying, Jesus never said, “Abba, Abba! They should have seen the signs! They should have known better!” No. He said, “Abba, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

Had they known better, they would have done better.

If we can assume this basic truth about each other, we can truly have that meaningful dialogue so many of us long for.

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