We humans need to change our worldview from an apathy toward Nature to one of harmony with Nature.
In the context of our current ecological crisis, legacy building is the act of establishing and evangelizing a sustainable worldview that can be passed on to future generations.
Recently I gave a talk to a group of 40 senior citizens about mankind’s negative impact on Nature and the grim prospects of mankind in the near future. I proposed that, to survive as a race, we humans need to change our worldview from an apathy toward Nature to one of harmony with Nature. I noted that the age of about half of the human population is 25 years old or younger. These fresh minds are a center of influence that is open to new ideas and new world views. I stated that environmental educators were creating a legacy as they passed on a new and positive worldview to young people. In turn, these young people could then pass on their knowledge and a new worldview of harmony and interdependence with Nature. During my talk, I suggested that senior citizens could define their legacy by playing a vital role in guiding their children, grand children, and great grandchildren toward a sustainable lifestyle. I offered a number of ideas to the group in hopes that they would be motivated.
As I prepared my talk, I came to the realization that legacy building is a powerful conservation strategy. If teaching methods make a subject interesting, children and youth are receptive to the awe and wonder of Nature. They will participate in activities which will reinforce the learning process. They love to look, touch, feel, smell, and taste. In turn, children and youth can influence adult members in their family as well as the next generation. The idea of legacy building is a powerful conservation strategy over the years. I played with some numbers. What would happen if an environmental educator were able to guide only two young people each year toward a sustainable worldview? In turn two of these youth, each year, would guide two more people, and so on. Let us assume that, as an educator, you have an environmental education class of 20 young minds. Let us also assume that you are able to significantly influence two (10%) of these people to a point that they are able to eventually influence two other young people to a point of action. And so on. Over ten years,1,024 people will be strongly influenced by your singular influence in one year. If you do this each year for 10 years, your effort will result in 10,240 new stewards of Nature. If there are 1,000 environmental educators providing significant influence over 10 years to only 10% of their students, their legacy will be over one million young people becoming significant stewards of Nature. This very basic mathematical exercise demonstrates the significance and power of legacy building. By empowering a small group of youth each year, one is able to eventually create a huge cadre of influential stewards of Nature well in advance of the projected 50 year date when it is thought that the human race will be in mortal danger of collapse due to its own ignorance.
Whether you are an environmental educator or a parent or a grandparent, multiplying and spreading your knowledge and example to others is a powerful conservation strategy. By educating locally, but thinking globally, you become the initiator of a network of social energy that can grow and save Nature from human destruction. Your influence now can help build a future positive equilibrium in, at least, some corners of Nature’s existence.
Webster’s dictionary defines legacy as, “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.” Legacy is not bound by age or time served. Your legacy is not defined at the end of the road but rather by the moments that you share your life with others. Your legacy is reinforced and modified by the feedback that you receive. Legacy represents your body of work at each stage of your life as you establish and accumulate the required knowledge and wisdom to contribute to growth, innovation and opportunity of the people that surround you. Your legacy grows with each new experience and each time you inspire others to see something through to fruition. Leaving a great legacy is arguably the most powerful thing you can do in your life because it enables you to have influence well into the future – even after you are out of the picture yourself.
Legacy building is about being mindful of the opportunity and the responsibility you have to serve humanity.
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My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.