You are 18 months old and I just put you to bed an hour ago. Bedtime routine starts around 8 o’clock. But after brushing teeth, changing into PJs, and reading books, it’s usually closer to 9 before you fall asleep.
Tonight we read “Where the Wild Things Are”, “What Do You Do With an Idea?”, and the story of the pale green pants with nobody inside ’em, by Dr. Suess. And some others. You love to read.
We only have one window unit air conditioner in our apartment, and it lives in your small room. Tonight is hot for Boston; high 70’s even long after the sun has gone down. You’re head is a little sweaty, but that’s normal. You look very peacefull all curled up on your tummy.
In the living room, the box fan moves warm air around as I sit on the couch. My head is a little sweaty, but that’s normal. I am finally getting around to writing this letter.
The letter is part of a project your (amazing!) mother started, called “Dear Tomorrow”. I’m supposed to write you a letter describing how we know about climate change, and what we are doing about it. You are supposed to read it 20 years from now.
The hope is that if people simply reflect honestly about their responsibilities and roles toward the environment, particularly in the context of their children’s future, then they may be spurred to a higher degree of involvement that they otherwise may not have taken. It’s a good idea. Your mother is a pretty smart cookie.
I, however, have been slow to write my letter. I’m not entirely sure why. Certainly, I can be an artful procrastinator — a trait I hope you don’t inherit (although I will totally understand if you do).
But to be honest, it’s more than procrastination. I’m reluctant; reluctant because I feel those uncomforatable tinges of guilt.
You see, I don’t know what the future holds. I pray its not as dire as some of the more bleak predictions of today. But if it turns out to be terrible, and I didn’t do everything humanly possible, then I would feel like I let you down. And nothing can make a parent feel more guilty, than feeling like they let their children down.
I don’t want to feel guilty. Nobody does. And part of me feels like I shouldn’t have to feel guilty at all. Part of me feels pretty damn proud about what we’ve been doing so far.
I’m proud to tell you about how we recycle, and reuse, and drive a hybrid, and do a dozen other little day-to-day things that we hope will somehow make a difference. I assure you darlin, your mother and I really do think a lot about our impact on the world, and we do our best to make good decisions; for ourselves, for you, and for everybody else.
Inevitably though, I have to square these proud efforts with reality. Will they really make a difference? Will they be enough?
It seems silly to saddle yourself with guilt for something that hasn’t happened yet. I don’t want to do that. As of today, I don’t really feel guilty. I guess I just want to make sure I keep doing more, so that when you read this, and ask what I’ve done since then, I can still feel good about my efforts.
So I guess your mom’s idea worked on me. She’s a pretty smart cookie.
Tonight, in 2015, I think the little day-to-day things have a place in helping shape a more environmentally aware culture. I think that’s a key part of a broader solution.
But it’s going to take more than convincing everybody to recycle more, buy used stuff, and drive more fuel efficient cars.
It’s going to take some forward thinking policy. I can’t promise you that I’ll ever be able to directly affect public policy. But I can promise I will vote for policies that protect the planet over any policy that allows its exploitation.
It’s going to take a change in industry practices. The best way to affect industry in the U.S. is with your purchasing dollar. I can’t promise you I will bring any corporation to its knees. But I can promise you that I will use my dollar as a vote in the free market, and I will vote for the companies who are committed to a sustainable future.
It’s going to take more involvement by everyday folks like yours truly. This is something at which I can definitely do better. I’m proud of my little day-to-day routines. I’m proud to support your mother in all she does. But if I honestly want to help make a real difference, this is where it will most likely happen. If I haven’t done so by the time you read this, then feel free to give me the business!
I love you sweetheart! Hope I’ve done you proud.