Why My 16 Yr Old Son Skipped School And I Was Ok With It
Friday morning at breakfast and my 16-year-old son tells me he isn’t going to school today. “Something much more important has come up” he tells me. He’s marching in the city with 40,000 other kids to help the government wake up to the climate crisis that’s unfolding before their eyes. “The thing is Dad, the 60 year olds in government don’t care that much, they know they won’t be here for another 50-70 years, but we will. We have to live with this and they don’t!”
What moved me about yesterday’s march was the genuine level of passion and integrity behind the voice of these youths. This was not a day to skip school… this was a day to make change. They really are concerned for the future of this planet.
But another question was asked at breakfast, by his sister, who asked us all: “Do you really think it will make a difference?” This wasn’t asked in a negative futile way, more at a deep level of enquiry as to what needs to be done to make a change for the better.
The beauty of democracy is that a government will make most of its policies on the need to win 51% of the countries vote to retain power. The challenge with democracy is that if that 51% of that country have a mindset that isn’t progressive and for the enhancement of society or the planet, then that will influence the government’s policy. So as much as the march was for the government, it was also to help sway more people to join in the movement for change.
I often struggle with my own impact on climate change. I recycle my paper and plastic, I pick up plastic when I’m at the beach and turn off the lights to save electricity where possible. But as most people feel, it’s so far out of our reach that we feel helpless. I feel that the immediacy of the need for change has to come from the top down AND bottom up.
Governments can influence policy when it has the courage to do so. Last December, Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City said they would remove diesel cars and vans by 2025 with all of Norway to phase out conventional cars by 2025 also. So yes things like this can be done when governments are willing to implement policy over big business.
But what about from the bottom up, i.e. the grass roots of society? This will require more than recycling our newspapers and plastic cups. It’s going to require a complete shift from a consumeristic “need more to be happy” mind set. It will only come when we transcend the programming that getting new things will make us happier. It’s been proven through numerous studies that prioritising our extrinsic values over intrinsic values will NOT make us happier. What this means is that if we feel we will be happier when we get more clothes after excitedly purchasing them from an online store and having them arrive in the mail at our doorstep, then think again. Studies prove this is not the case. If we think we will be happier when we get the latest sofas and rugs delivered from IKEA because we were tired of the old ones, then think again. Studies prove this is not the case.
As long as we have a yearning to have more so that we can be happier, then we will continue on this path of deteriorating conditions. Living from a state of lack, with a sense that there is a hole to be filled by acquiring ‘items’ is a big part of what is driving our climate crisis. This will change when we are fulfilled more from the inside. How do we do that? By assessing what our intrinsic values are and then putting more attention on them. Intrinsic values are what it sounds like, they come from within.
Some intrinsic values are:
• A sense of purpose
• Loving relationships
• Having a sense of inner fulfilment
• A state of calm
• A connection to the Divine or God
When we have an increase in our intrinsic values then we will be less geared to seek fulfilment through external ways and if this happens in a scaleable way, then we will start to see significant change to the way humans impact the planet. When we combine that with change from the people at the top like governments and corporations, then we really might start to see some big changes! Sounds promising right?
Tom is a meditation teacher, author, corporate speaker and personal coach. He provides one on one coaching as well as group coaching in his Zen Academy for Transformational Leadership. To contact Tom about receiving his guidance or booking him to speak at your company click here.