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Something on Ricochet recently reminded me of an event that happened when I was a schoolgirl.
I must have been in 3rd or 4th grade when my class watched a video at school about the inevitable destruction of the world coming soon where we would have no food because all the plants and animals would die due to humanity’s neglect. Then we would die from acid rain, complete with a vivid little enactment of people dying from acid rain. The only way to stop this Certain Death was to start telling grownups to tell people to stop cutting down the rain-forests. I went home bawling to Mom about acid rain death and rainforests. It took her some time to calm me down and I’m fairly certain she got a hold of someone at the school over that.
This got me thinking that most people my age are environmentalist/activists to some degree. I get weird looks or lectures for not recycling. I’ve had people remove me from Facebook for making a comment to the effect of “You might want to get all the facts before quitting your job to go protest for NoDAPL”. I’ve had less educated friends act like I’m a complete idiot because I didn’t “get” the rhetoric behind the Women’s March, or vote for Bernie Sanders, or attend the Science March as a woman in the STEM field.
Why is this?
I remember after school programming and Saturday morning kid shows that included Captain Planet, The Magic School Bus, and Bill Nye the Science Guy. We had movies that preached about environmental issues and animal rights such as Fern Gully, Pocahontas, Rescuers Down Under, and Free Willy. We celebrated Earth Day every year at school with each class doing a skit about humanity’s rampant destruction of the planet and we took pledges with teachers to “fight against environmental destruction” for the “good of the planet”.
When I was in school and all this was happening, it didn’t seem out of place to me. I also didn’t buy in hook, line, and sinker. There were a few times I came home to ask Mom if Dad was really a bad person because he burned off fields after harvesting or sprayed fertilizer on his crops. Why? Because Mrs. So-and-so said that farmers were contributing to the destruction of the planet. She would always assure me “No, your daddy’s a good man who works really hard to make sure his family doesn’t go without.” How could I possibly think any less of my dad when all he’d ever been was a good, hard-working man who loved me? The short answer was: I couldn’t. All my family were farmers and I, myself, helped out on the farm. I knew I certainly wasn’t a bad person, so they couldn’t be bad people either. Any time some teacher at school said farmers were bad, it just contributed to my ongoing problem with authority because I thought to myself well, she’s a liar because farmers are good.
The environmentalist propaganda started when I was very young, but it didn’t get me in the end. I truly believe my primary saving grace was growing up in a strong nuclear family uniquely full of love, honesty, and responsibility with bonds that couldn’t be broken by lies. I hope to provide that same home environment for my future children.