My three oldest kids (18, 20, and 22) are out of the house now. You would think that would mean more free time and an easier life. But somehow, they keep coming to my wife Sariah and me to solve problems for them as they learn about the bureaucracy of real life. Of course, when I offer unsolicited advice to them, I get the standard “oh, dad, you don’t understand.” But it is the next generation that needs help understanding.
My dad died 20 years ago. I miss his advice; it always worked better for me when I followed his aged wisdom. But my 18-year-old son doesn’t get it any more than I did at his age, and he will think he knows more than me for at least another 10 years. When the next generation doesn’t listen to your advice, it is easy to stop giving it or stop caring about their outcomes. But every parent knows their own experience enhances the advice they offer, even if their children ignore it. The youth of the world need to hear our experiences and advice on important issues like environmental stewardship.
I remember my dad taking me hunting or fishing and telling me about life. I grew up connected to the forests and knew they were constantly changing. I knew wolves were bad and trees were good. Food came from our farm or forest animals. I helped my dad butcher the meat; I ground more hamburger in my life than most people will ever eat. I knew my food didn’t just magically appear in cellophane. However, my kids are growing up in suburbia with social media, and while I have made it a point to take each of them hunting so they can experience and understand the impacts of life, they are not connected to the land the way I was and their peers even less so.
That lack of connection to the forest, the farm, and the impacts of life is destroying the very environment the next generation is trying to protect. They think killing animals and cutting trees are ruining the environment while they live in sprawling suburbs and look at cute memes about how wolves have honor and protect the pack. Don’t get me started on my hairdressers’ posters of wolves howling at the moon and telling me how majestic they are. They have never seen a wolf kill for sport and race off to do it again, decimating the moose population, not to mention cattle and sheep. They call themselves environmentalists while their only exposure to it is in a protected city park. They call us capitalists while they spend more time protesting the very things that make their lives possible.
I am not on social media much; I am intimidated by it. I don’t want to get sucked in or say something wrong. But we need to tell them the real story based on our experiences; we need to give advice on what it really means to be an environmentalist/conservationist. The next generation needs to understand that logging creates temporary tree meadows that are better for the animals. They need to realize that nature is brutal, cruel, and vicious more than it is cute, cuddly, and safe. We need to connect them to the natural environment, not the manicured parks they see. They need to realize that trees don’t live until we cut them down but are rotting, burning, and dying all the time. They need to understand that the Hardwood table they eat on, the Hardwood floor they walk on, and the Hardwood chair they sit on are all helping to protect forests and reduce environmental impact.
No matter what they believe, everything has an impact, and we need to tell our story and help the next generation realize its effect. So, join up and speak out on simple principles that ignite your passion. You don’t have to argue, but you do have to share so that they see both sides of the wolf meme, allowing them to see the forest through the trees. Otherwise, they will be less connected to the land and more connected to the photoshopped images they see on their phone.
Why not “Share Your Experiences in the Environment”?