Generation to Nowhere or Generation Grown-Up?

Posted by Sustainable OKC | Posted in Community, Current Affairs, Science, Shauna Lawyer Struby | Posted on 03-10-2008


by Shauna Lawyer Struby

“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”       - Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

The above is an ancient perspective, derived from a philosophy extending back tens of thousands of years. According to the Basic Call to Consciousness, in an address given by the Hau de no sau nee, a/k/a the Iroquois Confederacy in Geneva, Switzerland in 1977, from the above ancient perspective, modern humanity is seen as …

“an infant occupying a very short space of time in an incredibly long spectrum. It is the perspective of the oldest elder looking into the affairs of a young child and seeing that he is committing incredibly destructive folly.”                                                           

1868Now flash back seven generations ago—140 years—it was 1868, two years after the end of the Civil War and a scant nine years since the drilling of the first modern commercial oil well near the town of Titusville, PA in 1859. In California, the oil industry was taking off (ala There Will be Blood). As the Industrial Revolution, fueled by coal-fired steam engines, roared across the continent, American Indians were forced from their native lands and onto reservations, and the magnificent bison, North America’s largest land mammals, were slaughtered by the millions, almost to the point of extinction.

By the end of the Industrial Revolution—generally considered to be sometime in the early 1900s—virtually every aspect of daily life had changed for American families. Due to industrial agriculture, food supplies swelled. With more food, population skyrocketed, and the modern world gave birth to many beneficial health and medical advances along with Coca Cola, computers, umpteen varieties of Ritz crackers, just to name a few of an increasingly complex array of consumer goods and technologies, and so much more, all embraced by modern humanity as the best thing since… well…probably the wheel, fire and sliced bread, not necessarily in that order.   


Fast forward to 2008. The earth is home to 6.7 billion people. Ocean ecosystems are in decline. Bird, bee, and fish populations are also in decline. Clean air and water, adequate energy supplies, resource depletion, all are an increasing challenge, and climate change is morphing so fast that almost daily researchers release new studies documenting the rapid and alarming rate of change.

If this were the plot of a disaster movie, we’d be pegging the unnamed extras doomed to expire. But life in 2008 is not a movie, and we are the unnamed extras along with countless other species.

By any measure, modern society is indeed the young child committing incredibly destructive folly, seemingly without much forethought. Where do we go from here?

Maybe it’s time to grow up.

Growing up means managing more than one thing at a time. It means thinking beyond today or five years or even 10 or 20 years. It means liberating our minds from failed ideologies and dogmas and embracing creative, cooperative and analytical ideas for solutions. It means building resilient, regenerative, sustainable communities and rigorously applying these standards to proposed endeavors. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it means considering the impact of whatever solutions we propose on the next seven generations.

Growing up isn’t always easy. Yet, as most of us who’ve done it know, it is an opportunity rich with potential and deep meaning. By incorporating the wisdom of the Great Law of the Iroquois into our lives, by using our imaginations to collectively innovate and evolve toward regenerative, sustainable, resilient communities, by finding a way of being in the world that, as the architect William McDonough says …

“loves all the children of all species for all time,”

not only can we change our communities for the better, but rather than going down in history as the Generation to Nowhere, we can become Generation Grown-Up.

Her2148e’s to thinking about 2148.

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