Femke Lootens: Discovering the child in ourselves to heal the world:
– an impression of the Earth Charter Youth Meet Up, 31 May 2017 in Wageningen, The Netherlands
Are you still climbing into trees sometimes? When is the last times you made something without a purpose? Can you still be astonished by a beautiful feather, a stone or a little bug? These activities might be essential for building a better world, as I experienced during the Earth Charter Youth Meet up.
On a sunny day in May, more than 40 students and professionals working in sustainability and education participated in a Meet Up organized by the Friends of the Earth Charter NL. There were presentations on education for sustainable development and the role of art in connecting us back with nature, multiple interactive games, a picnic, and a workshop outside where we build altogether a sequence of life in clay, letting us experience some big lessons rather than telling it.
From this day on, one main idea got stuck in my mind: discovering the child in ourselves will help us to build a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society. Why?
Because we need to look at the world through children’s glasses
For children, the world is a place full of wonder to discover every day. Being surprised by the beauty of nature, admiring, and appreciating it every day helps us being sane. Next to this, seeing pressing issues again in a slightly different way makes that we remember again their urgency and that they are still there. Just trying to look with new eyes to the world helps, but also art is a powerful tool to see the same things in a different light.
Participants making an organic sequence of life during the workshop. Building an interactive common sculpture taught me lessons which are difficult to express in words.
Because we need to feel what we are losing
We not only need to watch again with fresh eyes, we also need to feel again. Children can be indefinitely sad because of a dying bird, images of refugees on tv or an ill elderly person. When we grow up, we got more or less used to seeing things which can make us potentially sad. We don’t feel it so much anymore. However, in order to value the earth and the life is shelters, we need to “hear within us the sounds of the earth crying” (Tchich Nhat Hanh). We should not be afraid to embrace despair and weep as a child because of the beauty we are losing and unjust practices present in this world. It is through this despair that we can also find strength to act.
Because we need to imagine and dream as a child
How does this just, sustainable, and peaceful global society look like? Use your imagination. It is not because it is not there yet it doesn’t exist. We need to envision what the alternative is to current unsustainable practices. We don’t have to start from scratch, other visionaries have gone before us. We can walk in their steps and use existing frameworks as the Earth Charter or the Sustainable Development Goals to guide our way.
Because we need to build a better future
Seeing and feeling today’s greatest challenges is a start, but this needs to evolve in action. Action can be in our daily life’s, through political choices, putting pressure by activism or lobbying for change in your community or organization. With the MAPTING app from Earth Charter and SGI you can share your own sustainable actions and projects online.
Let’s try to reconnect with these characteristics which we can find inside ourselves. Look for your inner child, nurture it and combine it with your current skills and knowledge to make this world a better place for current and future children and grown-ups.