A gift for my grandchildren

By Kathy VanLoon
April 2004

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I would like to leave a legacy for my grandchildren. I would like to leave them a world that is different from ours. In their world, they will grow up never knowing the concept of war. If war is mentioned, it is only in hushed tones, by adults who remember it with horror and shame. And children listen, not quite believing that these stories are true.

Kathy VanLoon

Kathy VanLoon

In this wonderful world, the air is clean and fresh. There are no smog warnings in the summer advising people—particularly seniors, small children and the infirm—to stay indoors. My grandchildren have clean water to drink, water that is piped into their home from a nearby water source. They eat healthy, nourishing food that is free of pesticides, preservatives or additives. Most of what they eat is grown on local farms.

They play outdoors without having to cover every inch of their bodies as protection from the sun's rays. On warm summer days they swim in rivers and lakes where the water runs clean and teems with life. There are never signs posted along the shore to say that no swimming is allowed because of water pollution.

All the world runs on the power of the wind and the sun. There are no ominous-looking nuclear plants or coal burning plants. Global warming has been halted and there are no more horrific storms and severe weather patterns.

My grandchildren spend time in the many natural parks and wooded areas in and around the cities. They walk beneath the canopy of trees, beside cool waters, watching for the birds and other wildlife that inhabit these spaces. All are a reflection of God, so that my grandchildren know that God is beautiful and loving and life-giving.

They go to school, joyfully filling their minds with creativity and knowledge, and are taught how to live in harmony with all creation, so that the world can sustain bountiful life for all.

Everyone practices the five Rs: Revering the sacredness of all creation and living with a sense of awe and wonder; Reducing water and energy use, and consuming fewer resources by living more simply; Repairing and Reusing damaged goods rather than throwing them out or replacing them; and Recycling wastes and composting.

The peoples of the world, no matter what religion or culture, work together in responding to those in need or in addressing global concerns.

"In destroying creation, we are limiting our ability to know and love God."

From, "You love all that exists...all things are Yours, God, lover of life"
A pastoral letter on the Christian ecological imperative, from the Social Affairs Commission of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, October 2003

You may say that these are impossible dreams, that our governments have no money to guide us through to this way of life. I think we have the money and the knowledge and the technology. We now spend billions of dollars to build and maintain nuclear power plants and missile defence space stations, and to wage wars and build weaponry.

For many of us, how we live today and the efforts of our daily labours result in an increasingly damaged world. We have come to accept this state of affairs, much like frogs sitting in a pot of water on the stove, unaware that the water is coming to a rolling boil.

All of creation is suffering. The Earth and the poor cry out for justice and life. There is no choice left but to act. We must respond or our hearts will grow cold.

God is calling us to renew the sacred balance. In an unprecedented and exciting way, people of many cultures and faiths are coming together as members of one Earth community to address the ecological crisis we face. All are working towards a world of justice, peace and harmony. This world is destined, foretold, promised by God. So we will change our hearts and minds. We will learn to live in a new way, with humility, within the web of all existence. We will work for future generations of life on Earth.

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