Selfless Care

This past weekend I was part of a lovely wedding. The Flowers for the wedding came from the gardens here, and I made the vegan wedding cake. The bride wanted purple frosting, and so the cake was a tower of purple-ish glory with a frosting made from pureed blueberries. Here it is resting in the refrigerator before delivery.

The bride and groom worked extremely hard to create a weekend of happiness for friends that also would do no harm to the planet.  They borrowed. They up-cycled. They made everything by hand. They organized elaborate and wildly successful recycle systems.

At the close of the weekend when the last borrowed plate was scraped clean and deposited in a big washtub to be handwashed, the trash can for non-recyclables was a quarter full.  Sixty people had eaten and danced and celebrated up a storm for three days, yet everything used for the celebration but this modest pile of trash was moving on to be re-used again.

The guests were mostly twenty something friends of the bride and groom.  This gave the wedding a decidedly sweet feeling.  I was lucky to have conversations with many of the guests. We sat under the shade of the linden and birch trees where the wedding took place, and in the various hours before and after the ceremony,  those gathered shared about their young lives.

Unexpectedly, the conversations veered in the same direction over and over.  Independent of one another, these young people would tell me of their earnest plans to try to do some good in the world, and their desperate fears that there would be no Earth left for them to live out their hopes.

Since I try to bring messages of hope, I felt grateful for every conversation and every chance to say I felt humanity would wake up in time.

But really, is offering hope enough? Planetary heroine, Greta Thunberg said, “Adults keep saying, “We owe it to the young people to give them hope.” I don’t want your hope. I want you to act.  I want you to act as if the house is on fire…because it is.”

I came away from the weekend thinking about how so many of my generation are not inspiring young people with much of anything but an example of bickering, fear mongering, fiddling while Rome burns and making plans to waste as many resources as possible before blowing town at our deaths.  This kind of behavior was summed up for me when a retiree said to my husband at a funeral last week that his plan for retirement was to spend every cent he had ever earned on fun trips and not leave his kids a penny.  Another person at the event said she was too busy with special plans for retirement to think about doing anything for anyone else.  Again, this was at a FUNERAL where one might expect people to think slightly bigger picture.

In any case, this total focus on retirement plans made me feel sad.  As Greta said, “Some say I should be in school. But why should any young person be made to study for a future when no one is doing enough to save that future?”

Is our generation’s behavior really the best us baby boomers can do? Personally I feel we are being schooled every day by this sixteen year old girl from Sweden. And we deserve it.

Self care has become just another way to say selfish. Maybe it is time for us to give up the idea that the Earth owes us a carefree retirement of unlimited treats because we worked hard for forty or fifty years.  Maybe our generation, like the generation facing World War II, has to sacrifice and inspire instead of sit back and consume.

Since the theme of the gardens this year is balance, I’m drilling down on the topic. Out in the world there is much talk of balancing caring for others with caring for ourselves when in truth WE ARE ALL ONE. This means when we take care of ourselves at the expense of others, we are doing so at the expense of ourselves too. Balance only comes when we experience everything as one unified energy field.

I’d like to see us all, most especially my generation, get a better plan for how to help.  To talk specifics, this week a leaked document from the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, concluded that simply focusing on reducing or eliminating carbon emissions from fossil fuel industries, factories and vehicles will not be enough to avoid catastrophic climate change, and food production on the entire planet must change to plant based or minimally vegetarian to make the difference.. This month, a summit of top scientists meeting in Geneva is expected to use this information to call for a shift to plant based diets to keep the warming of the planet under the necessary 1.5 celsius.  We can no longer eat animals and keep the planet cool enough to survive.

Greta has said of us “adults”, “You are not mature enough to tell it like it is.  Even that burden you leave to us children…We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again.  We have come here to let you know that change is coming whether you like it or not.”

So, to my fellow baby boomers, let’s surprise Greta and all young people by becoming our most selfless selves. Let this be our shining hour.  Let’s be leaders of this change instead of ostriches with our heads in the sand. In my search for what individuals can do, it boils down to this: Not eating animals is the biggest single action we can make as individuals to help stop climate change. Only 2% of our generation is plant based, and we have the medical bills to prove it. Let’s change that today and fearlessly recycle, upcycle, re-use, reduce our carbon footprint and yes, go plant based.

A PS to all the lovely souls I met at the wedding weekend. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for inspiring me to do more and do better in my personal efforts. I promise to do everything I can to leave you a planet for your children and your children’s children.

This is a post from a wonderful Instagram site that shares much information about the things we can do to help all of us on our tiny planet.