Who is saving the earth?

Today, while driving home from Benjamin’s daycare, I saw a group of children and a few adults walking. One of the children was holding up a sign.

My first reaction, before I even read the sign, was “are kids now striking too?”.

They weren’t striking. They were saving the earth.

You see, by walking to school, they have been told that it will save the earth.

I have a problem with this. Not with the walking part, but with the saving the earth part.

We all know of the benefits of walking. We all know that here in North America it is highly unusual, and probably even illegal, to allow a child to walk to school unsupervised at a certain age. I’m not sure what the “legal” age limit is for a schoolaged kid to walk anywhere without an adult present, and there is probably a debate out there about when the right time is for each kid, but the fact remains that few kids walk to school. Or to the playground. Or anywhere.

So this group of kids is walking to school. Since I’m driving the car, I’m only half paying attention to the details of the group.  It looks like there are about 20 kids and maybe 4 or 5 adults walking.

I wonder if it’s the parents that commissioned the kids to advertise that they are saving the earth. Or if this is a public school effort.

It’s not that it doesn’t have a positive effect. Upon seeing the kids I immediately thought back to my own childhood where I walked to Kindergarden on my own. I don’t even remember if my parents ever walked me to school. (Back in those days we lived in Switzerland and didn’t own a car.)

The media is bombarding us with positive messages about the benefits of walking. But saving the earth? What are these kids saving exactly?

Don’t tell me about the carbon footprint. I understand the subliminal message here. What I’m getting at is that we’re going about it all wrong.

To tell an 8 year old child that his walking to school will save the earth from doomsday is too great to grasp. Can he even visualize the concept in terms that he can understand? How many 8 year olds see litter flying around the park on their own, without a parent pointing it out first?

I’m not knocking the kids and parents who walk, and advertise that fact, to school. I think it’s great. It’s about time.

But to tell they they are saving the entire planet is, in my humble opinion, ridiculous.

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