“The woods were my Ritalin. Nature calmed me, Focused me, and yet excited my senses.”-Richard Louv
As we glide through life with no real sense of what life is we grow farther and farther from any deep meaningful connection to anything. The current life style of the first world deprives us all of a sense of belonging, or importance beyond the words of our parents. This should not be normal, it should not be acceptable. removing ourselves from being a part of the world means that our children will never know what that feels like in the first place. We are destroying the human race at the cost of our children. It feels pretty urgent to me that we not allow our greatest resource to grow up unconnected from nature, and from our communities. This type of deep relationship is Essence of humanity. When people lived close to the earth they had a much stronger sense of belonging, and of self worth. The earth gives us a measure by which to compare our selves. Am I helping or hurting, do my action show love or fear.
“With Love there can be no fear, and fear there can be no love.” -Dr. Wayne Dyer
As the generation that is now coming into Power in the world, it is our obligation to ensure that our Children know this connection. They must know how it feels to be a part of the world for real, not just on Facebook or twitter. Children need to feel mud between their toes, and the hot summer sun on their faces. Children need to see animals and butterflies, Chase lizards and snakes, and to feel the rough bark of an ancient oak tree on their faces. Children are born with an innate sense of wonder, and we need to feed it.
There is no one right way to go about this. Everyone will have different thoughts and feelings on the subject. For some, taking their child to the park a few times a week will be enough, for others a yearly camping trip will be their only exposure. The problem here is simply that you cannot develop a connection or a sense of belonging in a couple brief outings, people need constant exposure to grow. When I was a kid in Northern Minnesota, my little brother and I would leave the house and go run in the woods, or play in the park, or swim in a lake, or go fishing, or………….. All day everyday. We knew no fear, at least not in nature. It was our home. It was where we belonged.
“Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives.”-Thomas Berry
So, here are a few simple suggestions: Let your kids play outside, every day. encourage them to get, wet, dirty, hot, cold, and to get scraped knees. Give them tasks. Find three different types of leaves, and figure out what kind of tree they came from. Look for animal tracks in the dirt, and identify them. learn to grow some vegetables or flowers. Dig for worms. These are all really simple. On a higher level, you can take them geocaching, or go for a camping trip. Find someone to teach them how to fish. I spent some of my childhood in Arizona, and we found a way to go fishing a couple time a year. Maybe get your children involved in a group that encourages time in nature. This one is important, Encourage your children to sit still and quiet in the outdoors, and just observe. To see rabbits, and birds. This quiet reflection is very important for children, and for adults, maybe you could even try it yourself.
If we can offer this feeling to our children, they will grow up to be more connected to their communities, and they will be more able to process their emotions, which will make them less prone to violence. Our world will be better if more people feel connected to nature, Period.