letter to the editor

Three ways to save the world

Posted:  Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 9:45am

Dear Editor:

It would seem that adults in our lives are often lost when it comes to solving human life problems. Yet in recent years real-life saviors arise from childhood and miraculously are leaders of compassion that work to undue the harm committed on other children.  Perhaps this is happening due to Catherine Ryan Hyde’s 1999 “Pay it forward” novel.  The story begins with a 7th grade assignment for the children to propose three ways that the world could be saved. One book and a movie where 7th graders proposed ways to save the world resulted in a Pay It Forward Foundation 501 (c3) Non-Profit Organization, and a global initiative “Pay-it-forward day.”  Are the children meant to lead us?

Twelve-year-old Craig Kielburger read a single news story about the death of a child laborer and worked without fear, but with determination to stop labor camps full of children as young as four years old. He continues today and shares his results in many books he has written.

A recent example following the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, caused by adults expected to govern and protect the people, when Flint residents discovered elevated levels of lead contaminating the water supply after the city was disconnected from Detroit’s water line as a cost-cutting measure in 2014. Yet it was Gitanjali Rao, an appalled 11 year-old who after two years became inspired to develop a quicker, better, and less expensive test solution. Test problem solved. Maybe Craig Kielburger is correct - children can do more because they don’t have as many fears as adults.

The Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor Community School District also witnessed high school student Lilly Sherburne’s research project uncover lead in drinking water.

Maybe we are wrong to see ourselves as primary solvers of problems.  It is more likely to see us as causers or deniers of problems. Perhaps we need more class assignments asking for three ways to save the world. Perhaps we need to look for more children to lead us into a better world.

Jarryl Larson