“In every deliberation, we must consider the impact on the seventh generation... (…even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine.)” – Iroquois Law
Well, the quote comes from my quick internet searches, but the concept is a fact of Iroquois Law. And what a concept it is. It may have been one of the first sustainability policies ever enacted. There was a voice at every council that represented the future generations. How does your decision today affect the world in which our children and our children’s children will live? It seems like a fairly reasonable request, but is a far cry from the attitude of, “Well, who cares ‘cause I’ll be long gone by that time.”
Thomas Jefferson had great reverence for the Iroquois system of representational democracy. How would a seventh generation clause have influenced our current environment had it been part of our country’s founding principles? Though it was not a prevalent part of discussions at that time, I am glad the sustainability question is part of public debate and awareness everyday today.
So, whether or not you are a believer in global warming or want to drive a prius doesn’t really matter to me. I pose one question to you. Don’t you think we can do better? We’ve dumped so much into our water and air, we’ve stripped the landscape of trees and mountains, we’ve watched natural habitats decrease, and seen the extinction of tens of thousands of species. I want to think that evolution means we grow smarter and we realize where we have failed. This isn’t about blame for those in the past, but about responsibly moving forward. We have the technologies to help turn back the clock on the ill effects of the past, but we need the collective will. Let’s make decisions from today forward that benefit those of the seventh generation.