Do we care about those unseen others, our great-grandchildren and generations yet to be born? Do we owe them a chance to live in beauty, to enjoy a secluded hike in the mountains, to drink clean water, and clean air to breathe?
These children are unseen too, but just because we can't see them in our time doesn't mean they won't be here soon. A few human generations -- 60 to 100 years -- may seem like an eternity to us, so far away that we can't conceptualize that time. But it's only the blink of an eye in the history of our own species, or of life on this planet.
You might not think it's important to answer these ethical questions now -- let our kids deal with what's to come. That's what was done to us, after all. But down this road is a perilous journey for our kind.
It's my belief that it's time we all develop empathy and compassion for the future inhabitants of Earth. Part of this harkens back to love too -- not just loving those around us now, but those we cannot see. Those animals who share our world. People on the other side of the world from us. The generations yet to be born. Jesus and the Buddha and other spiritual teachers taught love for everyone, first and foremost. I argue that this doesn't mean to people simply in our own time, but for the future, too.
If we try to extend love to them as if they exist right now, with us, what could happen? I believe we can do anything we set our hearts and minds to, including keeping the planet healthy and beautiful for centuries to come.
We are at a critical point where we can start planning and taking action on behalf of future humanity, as well as the other humans and animals who inhabit Earth now. I believe it's part of our spiritual ethic of compassion to leave the world better than we found it. And some have made great strides toward this: cleaning the air, waterways, and toxic dumps.
But we can continue to do more.
Those little foxes in the park will likely be OK. But what can I do, now, even in a small way, to make things a little better for future generations?
- Limit my family size
- Live more simply ("Need" less stuff)
- Support local, organic agriculture
- Avoid processed foods
- Drive less
- Eat less and exercise, outside, in nature
- Volunteer for conservation or humanitarian organizations
The little fox who graced this meadow last night won't know if we did anything to make a difference in his life. The generations of humans yet to come probably won't know our individual contributions either. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't do something. There is beauty in taking positive action for the good of others, anonymously. In the end, taking action is all that matters.
Further up the trail, the tracks of a pair of foxes appear out of the blinding white snow. Side-by-side, they trotted along the creek bed, probably mates. It's the time of year for foxes to den up and start another family. I like to imagine this little couple, cloaked in their red fur, trotting along the creek bed in the silvery moonlight, or perhaps through softly falling snow.
A pair. Trotting side-by-side in their journey through their lives, together.