Why Being a Mother Makes Me Want to Protect the Earth

May 11, 2015 | By Jocelyn Mercado

"Motherhood" sculpture at the Catacumba Park, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. "Motherhood" sculpture at the Catacumba Park, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Image courtesy of Nelly Romeo Alves (CC).

When I think about my daughters, I see them as beautiful points of light, unique and precious, growing and shifting ever so gradually each day into the adults they will someday become. They each began as a pinprick of stardust, an infinite being that was sent into our family as a sacred gift, a tiny Earthly body with boundless potential. The miracle of life unfolded within their cells to create a miniature human being with thoughts and personality and desires and possibilities that no other creation in the universe will ever possess in exactly the same configuration.

I am humbled and elated that I get the opportunity to share my life with these precious beings, my little girls. As a family, we help each other learn and grow and discover our own journeys here on the Earth.

But sometimes when I think about their future, I am so afraid.

When I read about the clearing of the rainforests, and the pollution and acidification of our oceans, when I see that people in my home country are voting in favor of pipelines that will destroy vast tracts of wilderness, I wonder how much further humans will go on our destructive journey. I wonder what fragments of nature will be left for my daughters and their children and their children to enjoy, 25 or 50 or 100 years from now.

What Will the Future Hold?

When I contemplate a beautiful mountain or river, or when I buy fresh produce at the grocery store, the thought always seems to creep into my mind—will this still be available to my daughters when they are grown?

Will they be able to enjoy the view from the top of Mount Marcy in the great Adirondacks? Or will those beautiful peaks be cleared of trees?

Will they have the opportunity to take a journey to the Amazon rainforest to visit Indigenous peoples? Or will the rainforest be gone?

Will the streets of New York City be covered up by the rising oceans within their lifetimes? What about the town in Maryland by the Chesapeake Bay, where my daughters were born—will it be underwater 50 years from now?

Will my children ever have the opportunity to see polar bears, elephants, or scarlet macaws in the wild? Or will those animals only exist in the zoo?

All parents feel a burning need to protect their babies. This is instinct, a profound and unshakeable desire to send our children out into a world that will offer them more opportunities than we had. We strive to teach our children about life; we tell ourselves that when the time comes for them to leave the nest, these miraculous young people who we cradled as newborns will be able to take flight and fulfill their greatest potential in the world.

But if the Earth is not healthy, in what vast and unthinkable ways will our children’s dreams, imaginations, adventures, and greatest potential be limited?

And so I urge you, all who are reading this article, think of your own children, your grandchildren, your nieces and nephews, your brothers and sisters, or the children who you see playing down the street. Think of the children not yet born who will inherit this planet from us, someday not so long from now.

Think of Them & Take Meaningful Action

Make a commitment to yourself, and encourage friends and family to do the same. Together we can enact great change to preserve the many Earthly wonders that are available to us today but that could quickly disappear if we are not careful. There are so many ways that we can each make a difference.

  • Share your money for a cause that protects the Earth.
  • Speak up for sustainable practices with your elected officials locally, statewide and nationally.
  • Recycle, reuse goods, buy organic, frequent your local farmer’s market.
  • Reduce your dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Join a movement and take a stand to counter the systems and structures that perpetuate inequality and environmental devastation.

“The next decades—the active lifetimes of the people reading this and their children—will create the blueprint of the future Earth. We have a chance to be heroes if we have the courage to do what the [scientific] knowledge implies, or to be reviled as ignorant, selfish, and hugely destructive if we do not. This is a once-in-all-of-life’s-time opportunity, but we can only take advantage of it if we understand what a unique moment this is and how crucial it is to get things right, and to do it now. For our entire species, today matters. Our society’s current choices—and interpretations—might be the ones that reverberate for millennia, out of all proportion to the thought that went into them.”

Quote from The View From the Center of the Universe by Primack and Abrams.

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