Planetary Parenting

Print More

Children are on the march.
Our planet has been around for some three-and-a-half billion years, and wehave received countless devastating blows from space debris–some of it destroying vastsegments of the earth anda variety of life species.
We now have evolved to where a given species has the intelligence to prevent such collisions and it becomes our choice whether or not we apply our resources to do it.
Therein lies a lesson.
We live with many earthly anomalies,human and planetary issues that clamor for correction, that range from inhumane treatment of children to violent warfare against entire populations. We now also have the technology and know-how to banish these practices; we have not, alas, mustered the courage or the willingness to do so.
It might be a vacuum of leadership, or perhaps a failing in people, that we do not rise up in Peace and Acceptance nearly so well as we do in Combat and Criticism. My personal lean is toward a Humanistic philosophy which eschews the sense of an innate negativity in people, but rather that we are wounded by early hurts. Itfollows that if we do have a failing, it has been absorbed over time, has become an applique on our psyches as protection against any new hurt and pain.

To counteract those protections and intercept future hurts, we must consider ourchildren and offer them a legacy of love-that-leads-to-safety by cleansing our own hearts of prejudice and aggression.
Since children are our future, we must focus on their parents.
Our world culture does not parent well; therein lies another lesson. Almost every other species nurtures its young more fastidiously than the human. We are often neglectful. We are sometimes assaultive. A world in turmoil is the product of neglected and assaulted children.
Thirty years ago, children eight to fourteen years of age, from twenty-four countries, were surveyed about what they wanted from their parents. The top several responses were: Harmony, Love, Honesty, Acceptance, Closeness, Attention (to their questions), and Appreciation of their friends. We need to provide these picks for children everywhere, whether as biological parents, cultural parents, or–grand notion–planetary parents.
Our loftiest task might be to behold our precious children in their honesty and innocence, learn all we can from them, and meticulously incorporate their zest, spontaneity and keen potential into our adult personalities. Ironically, only when we have lovingly absorbed our children’s humanity can we turn and be effective adult examples to those very same children.
If we do decide to apply our ample technology to keep meteorites from collidingwith our planet, it would be nice to think our world civilization is worth preserving.
Stan Charnofsky is a professor at Calif. State University Northridge, a licensed psychologist, and past President of the Association for Humanistic Psychology.