I find myself discovering things I have inherited from my parents all the time: the love of NPR’s Car Talk, my blisteringly fast walking pace, my fondness for hymns, and my fascination with exploring new ideas, are just a few that come to mind.
Aging parents often share their fears of being a financial burden to their kids. I share that sentiment. It would make me groan inside my core if my daughter ever had to bear the burden of a debt I created.
A good person leaves an inheritance for their children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous. -Provers 13:22
Monetary windfalls or debt burdens might not be the only thing my daughter inherits from me. Some signs I have seen recently have started to make me worried.
The placard at the Detroit River stopped me in my tracks a few years ago. It was a warning to not eat many of the fish in the river because of chemicals like DDT, dioxins, and PCBs. If you do eat the fish, there are special precautions to take to avoid the chemicals that reside in certain parts of the animals.
A few months later, I saw a similar one at the Huron River, which is a popular fishing spot in Southeast Michigan and where a few years earlier I had caught a beautiful smallmouth. “Do not eat the fish”, it said. This time it was about PFAS chemicals in the water. Both of these signs made me depressed.
These days, a fisherman can’t even eat what he/she catches.
2 weeks ago, I saw a different placard at the Detroit Zoo.I looked at my daughter, who was with me at the time, and thought about what condition the world is going to be in when she is my age.
Will the world my daughter inherits be one that is safe and clean or is it going to be one with more warning signs popping up? Will they have to install advanced water filters for their drinking water and air purifiers to clean the air in their homes? Will her generation have to place warnings on all of their rivers? Will my granddaughter’s history lessons include descriptions about a time when the water and air wasn’t polluted? Last month, I found someone who wants to do something about it because he realizes that at some point his daughter might ask him some tough questions.
“I don’t want to be in a position as a dad in 30 years time where the world around us has changed with my daughter asking me: ‘What did you do about it?’ I want to change things and I think we can, but there’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve let your kids down.” -Michael Doughty, CEO of Hylo Athletics, who makes running shoes that are made from renewable materials that can be recycled or composted at end of its useful life.
I don’t want my daughter or any of her children to be burdened by an environmental debt that they never chose to take on. I think it would make me groan inside just as much as leaving a monetary burden.