At our Democracy Cafe yesterday at a zocalo (plaza) in a Mexican pueblo, a 10-year-old child, her 1-year-old sister in her arms, stood on the periphery listening intently, but was too shy to take part. So I approached her after the formal dialogue ended, to ask what her insights were, and she opened up, as you’ll see in this video. Amidst the cacophony of a Sunday afternoon in the central plaza, she thoughtfully explained to me why she thinks it’s so important for democratic citizens to give lots of TLC to trees — after all, she explained, among other things trees give us oxygen, provide homes for creatures large and small, and were here long before us.
Children tend to have such a singular appreciation for the gifts of nature (and are moved by Dr. Seuss’ ‘The Lorax’ — how do we adults sometimes lose that appreciation completely? (Many thanks to board member Dennis K. Dienst for gifting our nonprofit a GoPro, which we used for the first time). The formal dialogue (which I was asked not to film) took place with diverse folks in the main zocalo in this pueblo in Mexico where the muck-a-mucks in state and federal government, without any official permits or permission, much less public hearings seeking the consent of elected local officials, much less ‘the people,’ recently had wantonly destroyed over 2000 trees of many species, in protected areas, in order to construct a six-lane super highway to replace the meandering two-lane road that now exists.
Our inquiry that I was invited to facilitate, ‘Quien habla en nombre de los arboles?’ really delves not only into environmental and environmentalist concerns, but into how (and whether) the people can stem those forms of political corruption and power-wielding that would render a citizenry helpless and impotent if not confronted — and what forms of confrontation are most suitable and effective when the court system itself is sometimes loaded with political hacks. This child had absorbed every iota of the discourse, and then thankfully tarried, as if hoping I might ask for her views — so glad I did; I learn tremendously from my inquiries with our youngest.