For years we have been showing our kids the world, hoping that they would develop a love for all of the amazing creations on this Earth. Some of our favorite things to watch are the many BBC documentaries on the Earth, the ocean and the creatures that inhabit them.
It was with trepidation that last Thursday night we took them to the Rose Wagner Theater in Salt Lake City to view a new documentary called "Racing Extinction." We were worried about it because Aaron and I had listened to interviews on Radio West, we had seen the previews, and watched some of the source material online. It was pretty gritty.
In stark contrast to the sublimely beautiful shots we were used to seeing in the documentaries that we love so much, the "Racing Extinction" previews uncovered some truly horrific images of wildlife that were being indiscriminately slaughtered and cruelly exterminated. The overfishing is causing the collapse of the systems that sustain life in our oceans.
It is a tough call to know when your children are ready to discover that there is a vast, sick, underbelly to our society. To know how much to protect them from the knowledge that there is evil in the world. But Aaron and I believe strongly that our children should be a force for good in this world.
We are so blessed to live when and where we do, and it would be a waste to let our children grow up inside a comfortable bubble. The sad truth is that we will never be able to keep them in that insulated bubble, so it is better for them to be able to understand what this world is really about and have the comfort and security of being in their parent’s care when they start to see the world outside for what it really is.
Now, there are limits and standards, of course. We never allow them to play violent video games or subject them to media that glorifies violence. But after years of developing strong feelings of love for our world, we had to let them know how it is being mistreated and what they can do about it.
As ISIS wreaks destruction and carnage across vast territories, we have started to share with our older children what is happening and have discussed with them what we can do to help. We’ve spent hours with Emma discussing political structures, terrorist aggression, the plight of refugees and what can be done about it. Knowing that there is evil out there and feeling helpless to do anything is a horrible kind of impotence.
We teach our children to combat these overwhelming feelings of sadness at the plight of sea animals or Syrian refugees with action. Doing something about the horrors of the world is the only way to make life better, and that is one of our goals here on this Earth, to make it better. Not just for ourselves and our friends, but for those who are helpless.
There was a bigger reason to have our children watch "Racing Extinction," as it wasn’t just about the horrors of overfishing, but a clarion call to action. Instead of taking the path of many doom-and-gloom documentaries revealing the tragic episodes of life, this documentary had solid suggestions for what to do to fight the effects of the pillaging of the ocean.
My kids were heartened to see that they could actually do things to make a difference. They could do small and simple things that will aggregate into big changes for the Earth that we love so much.
It is like this with everything. Sometimes it is too easy to just see the horrible things of the world, and feel helpless against what seems an insurmountable task. It is too easy to get apathetic and give up. But teaching our kids that they can do their small part, and encourage others to do the same, gives them back power and makes them into better, stronger people as they work to make the world a little bit brighter.