Every year in the month of March, we have "Earth Hour"...one hour put aside for energy conservation awareness...electric use and lights are sacrificed for one hour to raise awareness, and in turn it raises awareness of other concepts as well, such as family closeness and learning just to mention two.
Back in 2008 my little boy and I decided to "do" Earth Hour, and in turn learned some things about ourselves, each other and the environment around us.
Please enjoy my blog I wrote that year...and consider observing Earth Hour in your own home with your kids, tonight, March 23, 2013, from 8:30-9:30 PM
Tonight was when Earth Hour 2008 took place, from 8-9pm. I heard about it a few weeks ago and knew it was something I wanted to be involved with in some way. You see, I am very concerned about the earth we live on...worried actually, and feel as though it is being horribly used and abused, spent, depleted...trashed. I continue to be amazed at the number of people who don't care, or maybe do care, just not enough to put some thought into changing something. Even those who DO care enough to change something, sadly think they are just one person in a big wide world, so whatever they do will ultimately make no difference at all...so why even try.
It was this thought process that brought about the concept of Earth Hour. It is a means of bringing people together...tens of thousands of them...all over the world, and having them all do one single act of conservation, which will make them, as well as everyone observing, realize that every small candlelight is part of a far more reaching glow...one that CAN make a difference. Earth Hour is supposed to raise awareness for energy conservation and global warming, but I think it may have an even greater impact on our ideas about energy, its use and misuse.
My family has noticed that I talk more and more about "going green" and becoming someone who does not want to take from the earth without giving back...someone who does not want to take anything from the earth that I can not replace, and someone who just wants to become more as one with the earth...at peace with it.
This year I decided to start with just my own home in observing Earth Hour. I wanted to do it for my OWN satisfaction, as well as to make an impression on my six year old youngest son Nick, as he is at probably his most impressionable right now. So, a few days ago I started talking about what we were going to do Saturday night, and why. The first thing I realized in telling my kids to turn off lights, stereos and TVs when not in use, was that I myself also leave things running more than I thought. My awareness was already beginning!
The next thing I noticed was how very receptive my child was to the ideas I was presenting. I think most kids would be. Sometimes we wrongly assume that because they are taught and presented with things at school, they are truly learning them. We sometimes don't realize that as parents, we are their greatest teachers and influences, just as our children are our greatest imitators.
Tonight we turned off our lights, TV, computer and music...for one solid hour. I rushed to the store for a few candles, and got in the door just before 8 pm, when Earth Hour is set to start. There on the sofa sat my little Nicholas with eyes glued to the TV, for something he had looked forward to very impatiently all week long, was just about to come on...the Nick Kids Choice Awards. In an instant I felt a little crushed. There was a big smile on his face as he watched. I said, "It's time," lit the candles and went room to room turning every light off... everything except for the TV which Nick was watching so adoringly. I couldn't do it...I didn't have the heart. I began to feel weak and kind of ashamed...this was a moment where as a parent you do what is right, as opposed to what is more comfortable. Would my Earth Hour message be effective if I left just the TV on?
At that moment something incredible happened as I sat down, feeling defeated and saying nothing. The entire room suddenly went black except for the flicker of the candles on the table. Nick had turned off the TV entirely of his own free will!
You need to understand what this meant to me...because it is big! It meant to me, that what I had explained to my child, was understood and appreciated. It meant that even at his tender age, he had some conception of the word "sacrifice." Even bigger, it meant that where I was weak, he was strong, and made a choice to do what he did without being forced or even asked to. It meant that this whole global thing that someone had come up with, definitely impacted two lives that I was sure of: mine and my son's. It was beautiful and touching, and my heart still swells as I think about it!
So, we sat in the darkness gazing over the candles. We talked about a lot of things in that hour, and learned a lot. We talked about energy and waste, polar bears losing the ice they live on, water levels rising to where they shouldn't be, the world growing hot. We talked about our ancestors and their lack of the luxuries we enjoy today, and how they didn't waste things, especially when food, money and resources were scarce. Then we spent a lot of time making shadow animals in the flame light cast on the wall...and we laughed a lot. We watched our dog and cats stalk each other in the dark. We observed how the melting wax accumulated on the plate under the candle. Nick learned how there were three shadows cast of everything because there were three light sources, and how the shadows moved to the opposite side of the ceiling when the candles were moved. At five minutes to nine we were melting a crayon over the flame and observing what happened, and at nine PM Nick learned that a soda bottle turned upside down over the flame smothered and extinguished it, taking away its needed oxygen. We learned so much and had such fun that it was almost a shame to end our session and lesson...and then I realized it WON'T end. Nick promised to be much more aware of turning things off when not in use, as well as being aware of waste of water and food. He talked about it all the way up until I put him into bed.
I so hope that the wave of chosen darkness that swept the world tonight, makes a difference to other families just as it has my own. You know, we MUST care for our earth...especially those of us with children. We need to TEACH that skill! It is irresponsible to use, use, use and never put back.
Every one of us is a candle lighting up a small corner of our world. Everything we do, or DON'T do, makes a difference. What happened in my home tonight absolutely proves it! A little boy gave up something he really, really wanted to do, because he genuinely believed that what he was going to do instead would indeed make a difference. It is my responsibility, and everyone's as well, to keep this idea and purposeful thinking alive in my son, and all children and people.....