This is the eighth of a 13-part series on the Atheopagan Principles as I described them in my essay, “How I Became an Atheopagan”. To read the whole series, click on “Atheopagan Principles” in the tag cloud to the right.
The eighth Atheopagan Principle is, “I recognize and embrace my responsibility to the young and future generations.”
We’re only here for a short time. In the context of the Universe, we are here for so short a time that you need a microscope to view the lifespan of the entirety of the human species. And so our time is precious—and our responsibility to those who come after us is absolute.
Children are extraordinarily fragile: not only physically, but emotionally. Wounds they receive to their self-esteem and their sense of being loved and lovable can and will haunt them for all of their lives. It is incumbent on Atheopagans to treat children with kindness and affection, and to let them know what we appreciate about them. Not in every instant—no parent can possibly do that—but regularly.
Similarly, we need to be thinking about the kind of world we are leaving to those who will remain when we are gone. Is it to be kinder? Less polluted? More free? We make choices every day which affect those outcomes, whether they are big choices like whether or not to launch an activism campaign, or small ones like deciding against the purchase of a new item and instead buying used.
We have to be the kinds of people we hope will carry the world forward after we die, and that means both taking responsibility for our impacts on the young and the world they will inherit, and embodying to the best of our ability the qualities and values we hope they will embrace. Even those like myself who have chosen not to have children—primarily as a consideration of my impact on the planet—have a responsibility to carry ourselves and interact with children in a manner which supports their development as healthy, self-aware, critically thinking, responsible and happy adults.