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We have work to do for tomorrow's child

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About James

I have lived a lot of years and the more years I have lived, the fewer answers i have found. I hope that by engaging here we can discover some answers together.

To leave our offspring with a debt that delivers pleasure for us and hardship for them is immoral. What do you think?

We often hear Australian politicians talk about the importance of reducing the national deficit so that we do not leave a truck-load of debt for our children to pay off. This point has a great deal of substance.

Crippling debt and climate change are the ''gifts'' we are leaving our children.

Crippling debt and climate change are the ''gifts'' we are leaving our children. Shutterstock

 It would be wrong for us to saddle our children with debt we've accumulated enhancing our lifestyle today. If the debt was accumulated preparing for the future, that might be another matter, particularly if it resulted in infrastructure that delivered benefits that our children and grandchildren could benefit from.

To simply leave them with debt that delivered pleasure for us and hardship for them would be immoral.

But debt is not the only thing we should worry about leaving our children. We should also be concerned about leaving them an environment that is beyond repair, that delivers an ocean with less fish, higher sea levels and 55C temperatures in temperate Australia, on a regular basis.

There is a strong argument to suggest that the world we are leaving our children will, for the very first time, offer the next generation far fewer opportunities that were on offer to the previous generation.

There is a risk that we will leave our children, at best, an environment that sustains far fewer people, much less comfortably – and at worst, an environment that is uninhabitable for many.

In the 1980s, Ray Anderson was voted the American Entrepreneur of the year. In the 2000s, this same man, operating the world’s largest commercial carpet business, which used petrochemicals, had built a business that was 80 percent ‘neutral’ in terms of its impact on the environment. This was, by any measure, a stunning achievement. It was an achievement that won Ray and his company many awards.

In 2009, Ray Anderson addressed an early TED forum and gave one of the most powerful speeches I have ever heard a business person give.

In it, he talked about a poem that changed his view in business, the environment and life. I've included it here:

Tomorrow’s Child

Without a name; an unseen face
and knowing not your time nor place
Tomorrow’s Child, though yet unborn,
I met you first last Tuesday morn.

A wise friend introduced us two,
and through his sobering point of view
I saw a day that you would see;
a day for you, but not for me

Knowing you has changed my thinking,
for I never had an inkling
That perhaps the things I do
might someday, somehow, threaten you

Tomorrow’s Child, my daughter-son
I’m afraid I’ve just begun
To think of you and of your good,
Though always having known I should.

Begin I will to weigh the cost
of what I squander; what is lost
If ever I forget that you
will someday come to live here too

Said to have been written by Glenn Thomas, although possibly written by someone else, this poem reminds us all of why we should leave the planet at least as good as we found it. It is only right that we leave our children with as many opportunities as we were left with – and a better world, if possible.

Else>>>r, this poem reminds me just how fucking selfish we humans are!

If you would life to be inspired by Ray Anderson, and you will be,  take a look at this thought-provoking video. In it, Ray reminds us that theft is a crime and, as such, stealing our children’s future should be a crime. 

Ray Anderson: The business logic of sustainability

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