Parents who eat their children

There is a myth that always used to bother me, and that still bothers me.

It is the myth of Cronus and Zeus. 

In the myth, Cronus, afraid from a prophecy that he will be overthrown by his children, proceeds to swallow them one by one. To eat them.

There is a famous painting by Goya, depicting this myth, with Cronus eating one of his children. It hangs now in the Prado Museum in Madrid.

When I first heard this myth, I was shocked. How or why would a parent ever eat their own child?

But now, living in a world at the brink of species extinction and runaway climate change, a world where leaders dither in the face of important challenges -- the myth becomes very clear. And real.


Political, business and cultural leaders all over the world appear to care little for the current state of the world, or where the world is headed.

Opportunities for the future are destroyed in exchange for short term profit.

Resources are exploited in a way that is totally unsustainable.

And the climate is changing, and species going extinct. 

What can we do? I think a good plan would be "the three Vs": being vigilant, vocal, and vibrant:

(i) Vigilance means really observing the world around us, and seeing the true state of things. The world is just not in good shape. Everywhere around the world, we need to question authority, particularly since authority is proving itself to be mostly craven, selfish, and completely irresponsible to the common good. We have to put aside false divisions like "red versus blue" or "republican versus democrat" or "Christian versus Muslim" and start to understand that we are all united, as a species, in keeping the planet habitable.

(ii) Vocal means those of us who see the reality of the world have to now speak up. This is why I write on my website -- it's no longer possible for thinking people to remain silent. We have to speak out and also find each other to build alliances of real, credible hope. We have to work together to find new solutions. I know how tempting it is to look the other way or think that someone else will make a difference. But that is not going to happen. We all have to make a difference, in our own way.

(iii) Vibrant means we have to life our lives fully. We have to live our lives with the expectation that we will ultimately succeed in our efforts to make the world a better place. But that is not really in our hands. The only thing in our hands is our capacity to try. Enough of us have to try. And that means we have to throw away being dead in our lives, or living a fake, packaged existence that someone else wants us to live. The world needs as many people as possible to wake up and to really commit themselves to building peace and sustainability. There is a freedom and joy that comes with this type of dedication and sense of purpose. It is incumbent on thinking people to commit to this type of vibrancy.

It's not an ethical or right thing to leave the world in such a terrible shape for generations to come -- a hostile, almost alien planet, with species going extinct. We have to stop eating our children. Because that is in essence what we are doing.