Daniela Ginta, The Mindful Writer

Freelance Writer and Photographer, Author of the Mindfulness Blog

Tag: health Page 2 of 4

What About The Kids?

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on Monday, September 11, 2017. 

A few years ago, when my sons were still in public school (now homeschooled), we would get a lunch program to peruse and choose from if we wanted to. We chose nothing, not because we’re fussy, but because the options were deplorable.

One of the options was called taco salad. ‘It’s a salad made of tortilla chips, Mom,’ my oldest announced a couple of weeks later, rather bemused, when he got to see the very dish. No matter how you turn it, that is not food.

Feeding children can be a wild adventure at times, given occasional pickiness and all, but that’s no excuse feeding them junk food or low-quality ingredients as part of the school lunches. Not when we live in the middle of a farm-rich country and there is an abundance of fresh, wholesome foods that could be worked into school lunches.

I am willing to say that more parents would sign up for the program if there were healthy options, and would welcome the break from figuring out next day’s lunch. There is a high chance that many kids would learn about healthy food and be better for it. Which could be amplified if students would have a garden to tend to right on school grounds. You see, gardening invites to more than planting and picking, with the occasional weeding in between.

Gardening means learning about soil and all its wondrous components, from chemical compounds to bugs of all sizes that keep it healthy; it opens the door to learning about how liquids travel through soil and how they get absorbed through the roots. It involves delving into the biochemistry of the cell and if you add a microscope to the mix, you can get hours of intense studying, which will be followed by more curiosity. From there, you get to how fruit and veggies grow, and from there on, it moves into the realm of eating good-for-you foods.

Which isn’t anything that I saw in the school district’s lunch program I happened to come across. Chicken bites, chicken burger, chicken nuggets, all served cold, followed by some fruit slices and either juice or chocolate milk or plain milk. Fruit juice is empty calories that do not benefit children or anyone else for that reason. Eating the whole fruit is where it’s at.

Again, this is happening right here where we see ripe fruit that falls on the ground all summer and fall too, from cherries to apricots to plums, apples, and pears. On top of it, we have a farmer’s market so plentiful this time a year, that it would only make sense to use some of that to provide good food for children. Just imagine connecting local farmers to the department that organizes school lunches in the district.

That being said, there will be a chorus telling me that many kids prefer junk food and they would scoff at healthy (deemed boring by some) food options. Be it so, it should be part of a school mandate to educate about healthy food options. In an age where child obesity and chronic health issues starting in childhood are on the rise, that would be a moral duty, to say the least. That’s one of the reasons why I never refer to junk or processed foods as ‘treats’, but call them by their name.

Living a long, healthy life involves no magic.  Eat wholesome meals, mostly veggies, and never until full, get outside, get moving, and connect with people. In a nutshell. To keep with the scope of this piece, I will ask this: how many kids nowadays are doing all or some of the above?

There are too many processed food options (with attractive advertisements), there are devices that make them sit in one place for hours on end, there is the culture of fear where parents do not want/dare to let their kids play outside on their own, and there is, at society level, for the most part, a growing and deeply worrying trend of living life in an isolated, often self-centered way.

Many of our children are anxious, depressed, obese, or plagued by other eating disorders; some are bullied, others are bullying, at war with the world around them. They all start out eager to learn about the world around (healthy foods included,) and then somewhere down the road they become self-conscious, bored, tired, fearful, addicted to screens and drugs. Reclaiming them becomes the hardest task.

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way. Fixing a generation (or more) is no easy thing. As always, one step at a time is where we can start. No drugs can ever fix what healthy food, free play, and time spent together can.

Hippocrates once said, ‘Let food be thy medicine.’ Let’s start with that. Make every bite, treats included, count. As for the rest of the issues, perhaps we should go back to forming the village needed to raise a child. A connected community is where better things happen. When it comes to our children, no effort is too big to make that happen.

Magic Is Better Under Clear Skies And In Clean Air

Originally published as a column in CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on July 14, 2017. 

It happened that we could not easily evade on my husband’s three days off work as most of the clean air destinations were booked. Plus the sky around here got clear on Friday, so we decided to stay and hope for the best.

On Friday night we drove to Greenstone Mountain, away from the still smoky city. We had dreams of sleeping under the sky where our little guy could breathe freely. It turned clearer the higher we got, but the wind picked up as well, blowing grass pollen, dust and everything else in swirls that were not kind to my youngest’s immune system. He braved it for a couple of hours though, during which we ate watermelon, listened to harmonica tunes, chatted, and laughed. The air was windy-dusty but there was no smoke.

It got dark and stars glittered high and jolly. Then the moon rose, a gigantic bright orange slice we could spot through tall pines swaying in the wind. We lay in the grass on our sleeping bags and watched the stars. There were shooting stars, many of them, some so bright they left long-lasting streaks on the dark sky.

We made wishes, we told stories and we snuggled close: us four, the dog, a whole lotta starry sky and the magic that swallowed us all. Beauty that humbles and an unmatched depth of gratefulness: for seeing the stars that we missed so much on so many smoky nights, and for strands of time we managed to separate from the everyday rush and braid with all those stories and harmonica tunes. The stuff that will hang around our hearts forever.

There is so much to see and do here. From wherever you are in Kamloops, you’re but minutes away from a place where magic grows in thick bunches or hangs from a sky seeded with countless stars on a clear night. There is but one caveat: you have to be able to see it all. And you have to be able to be out there without the risk of suffocating like my little guy does on smoky days.

I have no respiratory issues. On a bad smoky day, I stay mostly inside. If I venture outside for a bit, I get the odd shortness of breath which is unsettling. My youngest on the other hand, and many other people with respiratory issues, feels that heaviness all the time, less so when he is in the controlled environment of his room with the air purifier running constantly, but that’s no life.

Truth is, whether you have respiratory issues or not, clean air is a must. It helps us live longer and it keeps us outside, where we feel better, we are less stressed, and healthier. It’s something we’ve been taking for granted or not thought about much, until we have been confronted with the harsh reality of dense air pollution.

Which brings me straight to the latest on the issue of the Ajax mine. For the most part, summer has become an illusion in our beautiful city due to the wildfires. Adding a heap of exhaust and dust to the mix will only worsen the air quality. Many of you reading this would ask, and rightfully so, if ‘worsen’ is the right word. After all, at its worst so far, the readings were at a mind numbing 49 (on a 1 to 10 scale.) Could it get any worse? I don’t want to know the answer; not if we can have a say in it.

Upon reading the conclusions of the BC Environmental Assessment Office and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency regarding the Ajax mine, I shook my head and wondered how anyone could write those things with a straight face. No environmental agency, office, or employee can possibly say that Kamloops will not be affected by the mine.

We can discuss the degree of harm, as we have for years now, we can debate on percentages of mitigation of the ill effects, but we cannot go back to the ‘no significant environmental impact’.

We cannot live in a polluted world. The immediate and long-term effects of pollution are not to be taken lightly. A threat that is not visible is misleading, but its consequences are real, and often deadly.

That everything is a compromise in life is true. But no one should barter with people’s health. As for the assessors, I am ready to say that perhaps spending the last month in Kamloops while writing the conclusions of their study would have given them an accurate picture of what the place is like on a bad summer day without a mine in place yet.

A mine that will affect an entire community for a long time cannot be. We will be left staring at a handful of money wondering what happened to the life we were supposed to buy with it. Let’s not find ourselves there. There is no way back to where we can see a better future for our generation and the ones coming after once we get past the signing of approval papers. The mine shareholders and CEOs that will profit from the mine revenues (not high enough) will not be living here anyway. Disconnection from the consequences of one’s actions is one way of going through life, but a dishonourable one if I may say so.

There should be no ‘us vs. them’ either. A joined effort to find solutions for jobs needed in the community while aiming for a high standard of living, might just get us out of this years-long debate.

I am biased of course, but I simply cannot forgo the look in my son’s eyes as he is struggling for his next breath. That’s where argumentation stops and you start reconsidering the way you look at life and all its wondrous offerings. Nothing matters if you cannot breathe, not even magic.

The Elusiveness Of Social Conscience

Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on Monday, July 31, 2017. 

What makes some people offer their homes to wildfire evacuees, donate money and goods, and even go and spend long nights snuggling terrified pets, while others do the exact opposite; stealing hoses and water pumps, enjoying time on lakes where firefighting aircraft load up, flying drones in hot (literally) areas to the point of aircraft having to land due to added risk. Oh, and there are some individuals engaging in looting, scamming, and basically anything that would transform one’s vulnerability into their monetary gain.

It’s contrary to anything most people would do. It’s deeply upsetting, adding many degrees of aggravation to the issues the province is battling as we speak, as has been for the last weeks. And let’s not forget those who increase the potential for yet another devastating wildfire by carelessly disposing of cigarette butts, or having campfires when the fire prohibition has been with us for many weeks now. It makes everything harder than it should be.

You could liken it to playing Whack-A-Mole with this population group that somehow does not see it the way the rest of us do and they do not only make it harder, but add danger, heartache and push one’s faith in humanity to the lowest point.

Many wonder how to go about that. Harsh punishment such as fines, prison time, etc. I am willing to say, given the very topic of this column, that aside from fines that should cover more than the cost of what was stolen or destroyed, or set on fire by careless actions, community service (compulsory of course, and lengthy that is,) performed by those found guilty might just be what best serves the cause.

I have been amongst those who say that our legal system has it so that often times the punishment does not seem to fit the crime. At the same time, I have been a proponent of obligatory community service (whatever and wherever is needed) that those found guilty should give to their fellow humans.

I dare believe that it might spark thoughts of social consciousness. Perhaps not in all, but truly, hard work does have its merits when it comes to bringing a message through. If regular people can lend themselves to volunteering for good causes, I do not see why perpetrators would not do the same, willingly or not, instead of being given a fine and/or possibly a mild sentence.

There is much to speculate about what makes one go against everything decent and instead engage in contrary behaviour. The various types of crimes against society in times of crisis such as the one we’re now living through in the BC interior, while discouraging and depressing when taken out of context, only reinforce the fact that for every person doing the wrong, unlawful thing, there are hundreds more going above and beyond in trying to help their fellow humans and animals in times of need.

That is heartwarming. Kamloops has become an example of what helpful means when people are in trouble. It would be unrealistic to think that resources can be bottomless, should the same attitude be continued with once the wildfire season is past us (now that’s a happy thought!). But kindness towards each other should, to the same extent and more. As they say, you might not have anything material to give, but a smile, a kind word or helping when you can, that is where it’s at.

I’ve been told repeatedly that social conscience at the level of society is my own kind of illusion I keep hanging onto for no good reason, yet I choose to believe it is possible. Perfect? Not even close. Humans are, as we all know, fallible and imperfect in their actions and intentions, some downright cruel and ill-intended, and there is no point in trying to find out why they do that.

But what if they had to give back in form of work, which means time and effort, the willy-nilly paying back for one’s crimes which will benefit their fellow humans and can yet provide a possible path to reconciling… Fines and prison time, while they can turn some around, or scare them from repeating the crime, might just make many more careful in how they commit the crime.

Should a person be forced to serve the community they wrongfully acted against, it might just help them see things in a different light. Such as ‘this is what your actions led to; this is what you need to do, work-wise, to make it up to your fellow humans.’

What do you think?

Rethinking Our Eating Habits Can’t Happen Soon Enough

Originally published as a column in the Armchair Mayor News. 

20150913_103721Whenever we happen to have a meal out, we opt for water instead of any sweetened beverages. Often enough we get an extra question regarding the boys. ‘Them too, water?’ Yes, them too. Water does it. I saw a cartoon today depicting a potted plant with a jug of water next to it, and for comparison, a child with a can of pop. The message was something along the lines: you give water to your plants, why give pop to your children?

It is often assumed that children’s well-being is closely linked to them sugary drinks and treats. I include fruit juices in that category too, since the content of sugar is high enough to make them a treat rather than a healthy option. And no, the vitamin C content does not matter when there is so much sugar hitchhiking a ride through the body too.

On October 11 on World Obesity Day (sad that we have something like that nowadays), the World Health Organization proposed a 20 percent tax increase on sugary drinks. That’d be a good start. The same should apply to fast food though, and soon. Perhaps followed by an objective-thinking fellow or group of (meaning someone with people’s well-being in mind) who would put the brakes on the increasing amounts of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup finding their way into foods that are not even considered sweet to begin with. Sounds crazy and backwards simply because it is.

That does not affect children and teenagers only, but all the age groups. If you think the WHO proposal is a tad exaggerated, take a look at the obesity stats: worldwide 600 million people are obese. For comparison, approximately 795 million people do not have enough food to eat on a regular basis.

Almost 100 million children in developing countries are underweight due to continuous hunger (I find it very cynical that we call these countries ‘developing’ given the raw situation people face there) and 3.1 million children die of starvation yearly. The number of obese children worldwide reached 233 million this year. Numbers are truly stunning.

As for Canada, we have nothing to brag about. One in four adult Canadians and one in 10 children are clinically obese. That means an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cancer, to name but a few. Not to mention a decreased self-confidence and even more serious psychological issues in case the of teenagers and children. Yep, it’s a mean world out there and the flow of perfect bodies, many advertised by the very companies that make us fat, is a never ending one too. Which is why rethinking the way we eat and feed our children has to happen, and soon.

In that context, the news that we are about to see yet another fast food place getting built right by a school (McGill and Columbia, right next to the new Stuart Wood Elementary) sounds like a bad joke. If anything, school curriculum should be focusing quite a bit on what healthy food is and why it is important that we eat that instead of junk food.

That should work hand in hand with government subsidies to the small farms, with education sessions on healthy eating which can include cooking classes too (imagine your doctor writing a prescription for that!), and with city halls being adamant about not allowing fast food places to pop up near schools.

It may seem otherwise, but we are in the driver’s seat. We can make choices and with our choices we can influence the way businesses come and go in our city. As long as we keep in mind the big picture and the reason for giving up on sugary, rich-in-everything-but-nutritionally-poor foods, there is hope yet that obesity and the health-related issues threatening children and adults alike will slowly disappear.

An argument I hear often from people who hold onto their bag of candy or cookie box is that you only live once so might as well live it up. Yet the thing is, when we choose nutritionally poor foods we live it down and our quality of life and overall health levels are decreasing, despite the momentarily immersion in gustatory bliss.

That bliss can also be achieved from a different direction and with much better outcomes by reminding our taste buds of the foods intended to keep up both happy and healthy. As for side effects, I foresee only good ones: eating less (nutritionally adequate foods are satisfying in smaller amounts) while appreciating food more. That will also take care of the indecent issue of today’s western society, which is food waste.

Worth a try, don’t you think?

Health And Education Should Come First

Originally published as a column in NewsKamloops.

PupI could delight you this time with some stories about our three-month-old puppy. Her deeds are cute, funny and downright naughty at times but cuteness comes with built-in ‘forgive me’ features and that’s that. Should she happen to need veterinary care because, say, she swallowed some sharp pebbles (true, she did), I have no trouble finding help in one of the clinics here in Kamloops.

That is reassuring. It’s good to get help when you need it and reassuring to know that you are not on your own with an issue that gives a few extra heart beats.

When it comes to my children, well, that’s a different problem. Over the last couple of weeks my youngest has been struggling with asthma on and off. As long as the puffer works, he gets some breathing help at night and I get some peace of mind. But puffers can only last that much and then you need a new prescription.

Unlike the urgent help I can get with our puppy, finding a spot in one of the local walk-in clinics for my son is a different matter. There are line-ups, there are lists, there is luck (or not) and there is the fear that, should he need additional tests done, there will a long waiting time before we can get in and get an answer. When one’s breathing is laboured, that is the farthest thing from reassuring.

This last week the news that the BC Children’s Hospital had to cancel some surgeries (non-emergency ones) because of a shortage of nurses was not only sad but infuriating. Though positive thinking tips include the one that says you should not ask ‘what if’, in this case I have to admit that the dreaded question crossed my mind.

What if? What if my children were among the non-urgent cases whose surgeries would be postponed because of a shortage of nurses? This kind of question becomes severely uncomfortable when it affects one directly. And it does, many people.

It does not cease to amaze me that our province lags when it comes to health, education and general child care issues. There are nurses I talked to who said they are overworked, many work on contract which means they have no benefits and support staff is scarce to make proper medical care a joke at times and their job a lot harder.

At the same time, many schools are closing throughout the province and in Vancouver too, where you’d think the rivers of money brought by real estate and foreign investors could positively impact the school situation.

That sometimes they are the only schools in an area (the case of the highschool in Osoyoos) makes it all the more shocking. Many teachers are being given the slip, many support staff too, so for parents whose life was a struggle at times because their children needed special assistance, life is becoming even more challenging.

Same goes for children struggling with chronic health issues. The families who appeal to the government for help are being told that there are no available funds for their case. To add to an already flammable list… we have the highest rate of child poverty in Canada, and there are communities where environmental pollution affects people’s health (as always, children are most susceptible), not that the latter is in any way a concern of the present provincial government.

Reading a well put together book on virtues with my youngest, we came across issues such honesty, kindness, compassion, and the discussions that ensued are nothing short of wonderful. We all want our children to learn to be honest, kind and compassionate. The world seems better that way. When someone goes the extra mile out of sheer kindness, it gives me hope.

When someone in a leading position makes the choice to remember that many people hope with all their might that vital issues like health, education, minimum wages and affordable daycare or support for people in poverty-ridden communities, are not overlooked but dealt with respectfully, that makes a world of difference. As it should.

Life is so far from perfect at times so our only hope is to stick together, to stand up for what’s right and to remember that though we may be out of harm’s way, some people aren’t, and their needs have to be solved. That a society where health and education are well taken care of sees many of its other issues solved too. It’s a story that could have a happy ending, but all characters, and primarily the ones in leading roles, need to show some good moral and intellectual virtues. Like honesty, kindness, compassion, courage and wisdom. That would do. Truly.

The Land, The People and The Economy

Originally published as a column on NewsKamloops on Friday March 4, 2016. 

On Tuesday night I was part of a group of people who gathered at TRU to watch the documentary ‘Fractured Land’ featuring Caleb Behn, an indigenous young man who is both a lawyer and an activist. His Goliath is the fracking industry in the BC Northeast and the possible development – unless something happens to halt the project – of the site C dam, which will add more insult to the injury already hurting the area.

It was hard not to shift in your seat as the show drew to an end and left everyone wondering what the best way to do things is after all. People have a love-hate relationship with fossil fuels, more so in the areas where the consequences of taking them out of the ground is seen in declining health, an increased rate of birth defects and also in the way their immediate natural world is affected.

Is leaving everything in the ground the solution? That’s naiveté at its best. Not because it is a bad idea but because we are still dependent on fossil fuels and the industry will not hang its hat any time soon. A smooth enough transition to renewable energy sounds commendable but… our leaders are still talking pipelines, fracking wells are still being drilled and an environmental black-eye like site C dam project is still to become reality.

The recent Paris meeting COP21 had many nations, especially island dwellers who are literally in harm’s way, trace the lines in the sand in regards to what temperature increase their now fragile worlds can tolerate before tipping point(s) becomes evident. That is, in less palatable terms, the point of no return.

But once the colourful sparkles of fireworks died off and the champagne glasses were put away, the New Year came with some uncomfortable surprises. It’s getting hot, scientists warn, and it’s getting shifty, weather pattern-wise, as is the case on the East coast. At the time of this writing on Thursday, March 3, the latest measurements showed that the average temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere have pushed through the 2 degrees Celsius above the usual (normal) values.

You know it’s getting hot when the Iditarod organizers have to haul in snow to make up for the missing white matter. That’s snow proofing and it cannot do more than be a Band-Aid solution.

That uncomfortable shifting in one’s seat again. But all is not lost. If it’s hot in one spot only many will carry on with their lives as if nothing is happening. If it’s hot in most places, people start to notice and action follows. There’s hope.

Luckily the dreary news coincides with the wrapping up of the Globe 2016 Leadership Summit in Vancouver. The conclusions included plans to phase out coal, reduce the methane emissions generated by the oil and gas industry and a province-specific carbon pricing scheme.

It sounds optimistic though the pipelines stay for now, which is not optimistic. Nor is the existent dialogue between the present government and oil companies regarding Arctic drilling, but if enough eyes are on it, perhaps public consultations will become a must and thus we will have a chance to speak up.

We are but a country among many contributing to the rise in greenhouse gases and though our contribution is low compared to other countries such as the US and China, the undeniable reality of intersecting economies should understandably push our present leadership towards finding solutions to reflect the present environmental challenges (yes, trade partnerships signed by the previous and present government can get in the way).

But there is a bright side too. Climate change has become a topic, a hot one and not just in environmental circles. Dialogue brings hope and it brings solutions.

Protecting the environment does not have to be the deadly enemy of economic growth, our PM Justin Trudeau said not long ago. The green energy sector can create jobs while honouring the commitment towards our beautiful blue dot, and it can assist, at a large scale, our transition to renewable energy sources that will see us on a more hopeful trajectory as a planet.

One thing is clear though. Economic growth can easily transition into being powered by greed rather than morals pertaining to the benefit of us all, and when it does, ill effects become ignored or concealed. Here’s to hoping that we have learned enough from the past and present in order to make the future a better one where greed need not apply, not if survival is intended.

As for doing something at an individual level, I have been told repeatedly, that will not help much. True, but it will save us from occasional despair and it will lead to a shift in how we think at community level, which counts.

Children Matter. Period.

Originally published as a column in NewsKamloops on Friday, February 19, 2016. 

momentsThere is nothing scarier or more upsetting for a parent than to feel helpless as he or she watch their child struggle with something they do not have the key to solve.

Last night found me wrestling thoughts of helplessness as I laid next to my youngest whose asthma flared up again a couple of days ago after a long dormancy. His breathing was my worry metronome.

Yes, for a while it did not bother him. As much as I would like to say that I almost forget it exists, that is not the case.

Whenever I pass by the hospital I think of it, whenever I see a cat I think of it (yes, it is cat-triggered yet ever new episode makes us wonder whether other allergens will become dreadful asthma triggers as well), and though I am not a pessimist by nature, the memory of his raspy breaths can easily demolish the earnest smile I could muster on a good day.

Something switches forever inside one’s heart when their child is born. You can’t quite identify it to put it in proper words but the short of it is ‘I’ll do anything to keep you alive and thriving’. And then, every now and then, we are put to test.

It’s humbling to realize how powerless we are when that happens. We turn to prayers and hope-building thoughts, we toss in our beds and renew the promise ‘whatever it takes’ and then we don’t let go, no matter what.

In my experience, the most important thing that happens when such occurrences bring us to our knees is to know that you are not alone. Many people are though and that is something no one should hide, but expose so it will not happen again.

As we went through a day of whizzing and monitoring the little guy, reaching for the puffer when needed, my thoughts traveled, as they often do, to all parents out there to struggle with not knowing what the future holds. We really are in this together.

There are degrees of uncertainty, as many as there are affections. There is though that common denominator that joins all parents: the worrying, the occasional relief just to get your strength back, the never-ending hope and the knowledge of how vital it is to not be alone as you face it all.

While some serious health problems occur just because and the cause is almost impossible to pinpoint, hence we resort to saying ‘genetic causes’ and leave it at that, while still not giving up the fight, others are avoidable and, worst of all, caused by human action. Irresponsible action that is. And that is simply unforgivable. That is something we need to know about, act upon and learn from.

Case in point number one: Flint, Michigan. If you’ve been reading the news about the town of almost 100,000 where people have been drinking lead-laden water for long enough to face serious health consequences, it is hard not to be horrified when you think of the dreadful reality that the parents of those thousands of children are facing.

Someone, somewhere (and it is not hard to know where as inquiries take place) decided to save money while putting people at risk. As always with any risks we take when it comes to a population group, the most affected will be children. Their small growing bodies can only take so much, and many of the consequences are irreversible.

Lead poisoning is one of them. Even small amounts can wreak havoc with a child’s body (with an adult’s too but the scale is different and for the scope of this column I choose to focus on children’s issues) causing irreversible damage. Ditto for unborn children.

A case that should serve as a reminder that our children are vulnerable and though resilience is one of their stellar qualities, they can only do so much when their health is becoming the subject of a Russian roulette game played by people who have the power to make decisions.

Case in point number two. The hydrocephalic babies born lately in Brazil and other areas of South America where a GM mosquito species resides and is being thought to spread the Zika virus, which many scientists believe to be causing the birth defects observed recently. Some environmentalists’ groups point to a pesticide called pyroproxyfen which was sprayed in order to kill the mosquito larvae in some areas as the culprit.

The answers are still not in, the debates are still raging. The reality that mothers of babies born with severe birth defects – many of them with limited access to funds that would help them care for their babies as they grow and face innumerable challenges – is a hard one to fathom. And the actual one they are left with.

The two cases and so many more remind me of these things: with our actions today we influence the fate of our children and their children. In how we plan our life and theirs we can make choices that honour the role we were given, as their protectors, to the best of our ability, and their defenders, in face of those who attempt to make bad choices.

It’s coming down to this: as much as we can, in raising our children – and the Earth village are all included here – we have to give it all. We have to keep our actions in line with the promise that matched the love we felt when we first laid eyes on our children.

Whether it pertains to digging mines or building pipelines, or to allowing the quality of air to increase as sales of new cars soar, there is but one way to do it right: the health of people comes first, children first of all.

In everything that we do at the community level, city and planet, we have to be mindful. Sometimes we really only have one shot to make it right. For them, for their future, for honouring ourselves and those who once cared the same for us.

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