Miru is now clapping her hands. At almost nine months, she is a very happy baby, and the occasional bouts of crying are interspersed with laughter and endless joy – for her as well as for her parents. She’s a perfect baby, and if you a) don’t believe me and b) read Korean, my dear wife’s blog is laden with wonderfully entertaining evidence of the fact.
It’s traditionally not easy to distinguish between instinct and imitation, between things she does naturally, playing like a music box playing the one tune precoded by her DNA, and which behavior actually went through her nascent processing unit of observation, interpretation, and – most exciting – response. Where does nature stop, and nurture start, and why do we make such a ridiculous disctinction in the first place? Anyway, such are the topics of Sunday discussions and it’s Saturday night, the baby is asleep, and I’m writing these lines to Latin American rhythms.
It’s wonderful to see my baby imitate what I do, and it can make a parent feel overwhelmingly happy when we realize that the growth of her repertoire will soon resemble the Cambrian explosion. I patted my lips with my hand while making an “oooh” sound similar to a native America warcry, and so did she. Yeon waved at her, and she waved back. I stuck out my tongue, and she mimicked it.
So Miru gives applause. It makes me think about my usual métier, that of radical transformation of our civilization, reconnecting to the earth, to our communities, to each other, abolishment of usury, of debt peonage, restoration of ecosystems, abolishment of strip mining, reforestation, closing down of factory farms, oil platforms, restoration of the soil through permaculture, localization and diversification of our economies. The solutions are obvious, and more and more people are connecting the dots. If we do well, sisters and brothers, my daughter’s youth will coincide with a transition so grand it dwarves all previous human undertaking. The 20th century put a man on the moon, and the 21th is our only chance to prevent this planet from turning into a moonscape.
Is her parent’s generation going to do things right? Miru is already applauding us, but we haven’t achieved anything yet. Fossil fuel consumption – and thus drilling, fracking, tar sands, and pipelines – is rising. Deforestation is still going on at an alarming rate. The oceanic dead zones grow. Coral reefs are being destroyed. The list goes on. And it humbles me. With all our beautiful talk, here we are. The generation of Miru’s parents (or at least those of us who desperately and consistently want human cultures (plural!) to sustain and thrive in unknown futures). We really want nothing more and nothing less than to bequeath a living and thriving planet to our descendants, more precisely, a multitude of wonderfully interconnected ecosystems, of landbases where they can belong.
Miru is already clapping for us before we’ve achieved any of this. With so much grace and goodwill, her applause compels us to a life of meaningful struggle.