Written by: Mary Ann Nafziger
“In every decision you make, you must consider the impact on the next seven generations”. I believe I first heard this quote in Sunday school as a child. I’ve since learned that this quote is actually attributed to the Iroquois Constitution. Our Sunday school teachers were probably trying to teach all of us squirming 10 year olds something about how to be responsible people; how to care for each other, how to treat the earth. They told us that Canadian Aboriginal people used to make community decisions by thoroughly discussing how their actions would affect later generations. I don’t know how accurate this childhood picture is to actual Aboriginal practices, diverse as they are in Canada and North America. Regardless of how limited my understanding is of Aboriginal practices, this quote has stuck with me through the years and has become even more pertinent to me as I age.
I’ve spent many hours considering what kind of a world I want my children and all the future generations to inherit because of this saying. I’ve asked myself if the future generations will have clean water to drink and swim in; if they will have snowy winters to play in and soil that can support healthy, nutritious plants to eat. Musing about this saying as a child, I concluded that it was a personal responsibility of mine to make sure that I gave a more peaceful and healthy Earth back to the future generations than the Earth I’d received from my parents.
As I age I still believe in the power of communities and people to influence positive change in this world, and even to restore the way we function as a global whole to more peaceful and healthy practices worldwide. Considering this Iroquois saying has made me wonder too about what healthy, functioning, and peaceful communities, nations, and world would look like? What would we have? What would we value? And how would we interact with other people?
In light of all these questions, I stumbled upon an art project that gives children and adults a chance to share what our visions are of a more peaceful world would look like. We at the Family Care Office thought it was a really great project and decided to make it one of our March break events for parents and children to attend. It is called the Global Art Project for Peace and it works like this: we will have an event over the March break where children of students, staff and faculty will make a mural to share their dreams of what a peaceful world would look like. This mural will be displayed at U of T until the end of April. Then, we are matched with a school or community group somewhere else in the world. We send our art to them and they send us their art! It is a great opportunity to connect with people around the world and share our hopes and dreams for the future generations through art! This March break activity is happening on Thursday March 15, 2012 from 10:00 until 12:00. Call 416-978-0951 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up or register online at www.familycare.utoronto.ca.