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Life Arts

A Ten-Step Plan To Care for Our Country and World

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Meet America, your new child. And planet Earth, her big sis.

Yes, they are your responsibility. For life.

Gone are the days of worshipping mothers. Perhaps 12,000 years ago, our ancestors prayed to the first female goddess. Maternal devotion continued as the Virgin Mary, the Goddess Parvati, and countless others were celebrated worldwide. Yet Ma's contemporary resonance is lost. Mothers today are often placed in nursing homes and described as nags.  Even when we do value them, their support is rarely a daily or weekly imperative. So let's drop the talk about the motherland and Mother Earth.  


Today, we dote on kids. Infants are born unable to hold up their head or speak, with a prodigious talent for pooping. But investment of our time, energy, and creativity fosters the development of their innate talents. Years later, they beam at us while accepting their medical school (or 8th grade) diploma.

For many of us, transforming our world and country--whether through questioning a spying apparatus that leaves Communist governments in the dust, removing toxicity and pollution from production, ensuring workers earn livable wages, or slowing climate change--is compelling, albeit daunting. But raising our children was also. Let's lose excuses for inaction unworthy of us as parents, like: 

"I did so much in the last election. Don't I get to check out?" You rallied for Barack, contributed to his campaign, and went door-to-door in purple states. Sorry, canvassing superstar, you can't check off the political participation box til 2017.

You're logic is as persuasive as: "Boy, am I happy I got up all those nights for my toddler. Woo hoo! I'm disappearing during my son's adolescence." Or, for pet owners: "Isn't it fabulous that caring for Skippy last year excuses me from walking him in 2013?"

"But I can't possibly live up to my ideals." Your carbon footprint is the size of Kuwait. You rush into McDonald's before soccer practice. So really, why try?

That's like saying you won't help your kid, who doesn't earn straight A's, with her homework. Or take your son, no FC Barcelona shoo-in, to soccer practice. Moving right along...

"It won't make any difference anyway." Things may seem hopeless. But what would Jesus, or any person of moral courage, do? The Bible includes few scenes of Jesus sitting down, hands on knees, chin in hands, saying, "Whoa, this is so confusing. I'll just play tiddlywinks for a few years." Instead, he is energized by the scope of the challenge.  

The growth we expect from our children is absurd, yet achievable by slogging on as an article of faith and devotion.

So act.

Do the right thing. At the simplest level, it is the truth we come to when we embrace humanity.

Remember that life is not a popularity contest (although some of the most uncompromising people would have won the contest, hands down). Life's journey should showcase your courage and leadership, as it evolves.

For institutions you are a member of,--whether a school, company, university, nonprofit or country--work to change them. Call them out on immoral decisions or leave them.

Ask your friends and family about how they're involved politically and what they consume. Have difficult conversations.

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Veena Trehan is a DC-based journalist and activist. She has written for NPR, Reuters, Bloomberg News, and local papers.

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This article, which addresses a number of the ques... by Veena Trehan on Monday, Jun 24, 2013 at 3:57:34 PM
You have provided a great road map for taking pers... by Howard Schneider on Tuesday, Jun 25, 2013 at 9:33:05 AM
very sincere... by Mark Sashine on Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013 at 3:29:14 PM