This I Believe

Shannon - Arlington, Iowa
Entered on July 17, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

“You were born in the wrong era,” my mother says to me as I pull her hand made bell-bottom jeans out of a box and proceed to try them on. “The 60’s happened long before you were born.”

“I know,” I say, buttoning up the suede vest. “But, maybe I was destined to be a flower child in another life that was cut too short.” Mom laughs.

“I didn’t even get into the hippie generation as much as you do, and I actually belonged to it,” she says as she clicks away, typing an e-mail to a friend.

This was how my high school years happened. I constantly believed that I was born in the wrong generation. A generation that rejected consumer culture, valued the earth and her gifts, and accepted all of God’s creations with love. I was a flower child at heart and yet the flower power movement had wilted away long before I even took root.

By the time college started I had begun to pack up the beads and feathers. The past was gone and the time machine I had hoped for as a small child was never going to take flight. Still I held a flicker of hope, and while attending a lecture by Pulitzer Prize Winner, Doris Kearns Goodwin, a historian and author, that hope was ignited again. During the speech Goodwin mentioned a pattern of radical change in the US. In her opinion it happened about every 30 years, when an entirely new generation came of age. Being that it had been a little over 40 years since the 60’s, she joined me in my internal query, “Where is the next movement?” For years following this discourse I often thought of this question.

“Why doesn’t my generation get off of its lazy butt?” I thought. I was living close to my bohemian values; where was everyone else? “Will the next movement even happen and when?” To my surprised, before I even had time to think about it the answer was “It already has.”

For years, all across the states, neo-hippies have been patiently waiting for the same big change while weeding their organic gardens, reading The Lorax to their children, shopping online for their recycled tire shoes, and driving their bicycles along the busy highway. During this wait we, the earth-loving, tree-huggers have created the next big thing. We have begun the eco-movement.

As I see this movement charging forth, accompanied by politicians educating the world on global warming and world leaders meeting about green house gasses, I can’t help but wonder, why had I been blind of its start? The answer, I realized, was in my hand-stitched wallet. This movement is one of the first that has not rejected, but embraced consumerism. Not only are we protesting oil drilling in the few remaining cloud forests in Ecuador, but we are also shelling out extra money for co-op produced food and environmentally friendly laundry detergent. This movement is tailored to a material world, yet still seeking change for the better. We are still consumers, but we are beginning to reject hormone filled plastic packaging, inhumane meat packing plant procedures, and bleach in our bread and napkins. We are making a statement with our actions and our debit cards.

Like the 1960’s hippie the 2000’s environmentalist holds dear the principle of loving the Earth. We take head to the first commandment God ever gave man, “Be good caretakers of the earth, which I have given you.” How often we have used this commandment to justify our evil desires to control the Creator’s natural gifts.

Also, just as in the 1960’s, today’s naturalists are meet with criticism and nay-sayers who do everything to repress their own guilty feelings for not caring. After all, who can oppose a movement that assumes the self-destructive behavior of past generations and then works for a better environment for future generations. For example, today’s naturalists are not only eating organic food to benefit their body, they are doing it to protest corporate farming practices destroying the future of local farmers and also to rid the world of toxic chemicals that effect the water quality of their children’s children and their pets. Today’s generation isn’t fighting global warming because it’s hot outside. They are fighting so their great-great grandchildren have the option of attending Disney World in Florida, without it being an under-water amusement park.

Today’s environmentalists are not all vegetarians, chaining themselves to trees and saving the whales, but they are active it the pursuit of being good stewards of the land, water, and sky. They shop at their local farmer’s markets, fight for the construction of wind energy fields, volunteer their cars for carpooling. Today’s environmentalists are all ages, races, genders, and faiths, yet they all have one thing in common. They care! They care about the earth, they care about themselves, and they care about the generations to come.