If you are 20 years old and reading this then it won't be hard to imagine how it feels to have grown up being bombarded with messages of total planetary destruction and doom caused by human folly. If you are not 20 years old then imagine being 20 again (elders who may be reading this will relate in terms of the nuclear threat that had them doing bomb drills at school) and as most people at that age looking for any signs of hope for the future - a 20 year old Earth Child - lost...yet seeking.
That is how it was for me the day I was sitting in front of a computer at a developing EcoVillage in Arizona and the Earth Charter Initiative came up on a search I was doing for allied organizations for the ecoministry I was at that beginning stages of founding.
Those who have read the Earth Charter and had the same understanding hit them know of the experience that I had when I finished reading the 'Way Forward'...my heart had swelled in my chest to the point of bursting as my mind and will came into alignment.
My mind instantly absorbed the myriad of possibilities that could emerge and manifest through the global agreement and endorsement of the values and principles found within the Earth Charter.
My will awakened and I felt a deep urgency to take action in the direction of assisting the spread of the Earth Charter to all corners of the Earth.
And my heart felt a surge of hope that unleashed within me what I can only describe as 'care' that had been forced into a suppressed state since childhood when despair over the state of the world had taken hold and began its numbing effect upon my emotional body.
I was able to accomplish this through delving as deeply as I possibly could into a subject that an elder whom I had met in Colorado inspired me to study. This man was a traveler and I had met him at a park near the famous 'True Grit' café & restaurant dedicated to John Wayne and the movie.
I don't remember how the conversation even began but being a social person I often end up in conversations with people wherever my nomadic life led me. After speaking with this man for just 10 minutes I became acutely aware that I had the good fortune of meeting one of those legendary wise men who disguise themselves as normal humans (often unknown even to themselves) and I did what any true seeker would do and began asking him all kinds of questions about life, death, religion, politics etc. Four hours later our meeting had to end with the setting of the sun and I asked him what has since become a trademark question of mine to elders I meet who seem to actually have something of value to give to my generation: "If there was one message you would want to give to young people what would it be?"
Like most wise-guys his answer was one simple sentence: "Learn your 5,000 year history"
I asked him why five thousand - why not ten or twenty or 100. He said the last five thousand will suffice to know what is needed for what we need to do to change things and he said that once I begin to research history I would find that the history that we are taught and accept as the true story is merely a version told by those who prevailed. I was intrigued by these words from that day I committed myself to his mandate.
I never saw this man again and have since been blessed to meet a few more on my journey who became to me the standard of humans who were older than me that I respectfully call my 'elders'. I immersed myself completely in studying all realms of history - even the history of 'historians'. I came to realize that the man whom I met in Colorado 'words to pass on' were in fact probably the single most valuable advice that young people could have next to be sure to brush your teeth regularly.
History is simply 'context' that allows us to shape our world views and role of how we interpret the stories we are told within any given 'context' determines our behaviors, choices, actions, identities, and ultimately the quality of our lives.
The 20 year old EC - Earth Child - is still alive in me and has never had to succumb to the dictates of my particular culture because from what I learned from history, and still continue to learn, I discovered that every human has a choice of what kind of context and story they wish to live their lives by.
The Earth Charter outlines 'values and principles for a sustainable future' and another more famous elder whom I have never met but have read his works once suggested that when you wish to map a life mission for yourself you should begin with the 'end' in mind.
The exercise he recommends is to simply project yourself to your death-bed and look back on a life you would want to have been your own.
When I did this I saw a life spent 'living' those values and principles that are in the Earth Charter not just through lip service but through every choice and action I made.
I made a choice then that my 'endorsement' of the Earth Charter, and I believe this is true for many people who have also endorsed it, I was choosing to become an Earth Child - or Earth Conscious - for the rest of my life. I also choose to believe that this made me a part of a very big family of Earth Children all over the planet - who although I may never meet in person - will impact the future in ways that Earth Children of the future will harvest the benefits of.