Posted by: David McKay | May 16, 2014

One From the Archives: For My Family

I am staying in Central New York for the week – where I grew up – in the land of the Onondaga Nation. I went to the Onondaga Nation a few days ago and spoke with an elder about my worries and the troubles I have had recently. We didn’t know each other, but there was within me a need to seek out someone who could understand what I was looking for. I told him that I needed a place to go, to sit, and to feel the world around me. He sent me up the road to an old quarry that he used for such a purpose. I am grateful to him for that moment I found there.

Looking back into the archive, I found this from December 4th, 2011:

I thought of the seventh generation, that saying from a Native American culture.  So, of course, I looked into the meaning of those words.  I went first to Wikipedia — “Seven generation sustainability“, which is not a place to cite a source, but it opens portals.  I skimmed “The Constitution of the Iroquois Nations” and that led me to look for Oren Lyons and his take on the seventh generation idea.  I found a transcript of a speech he gave to the United Nations in 1993.  In that speech he said,

Our leaders were instructed to be men of vision and to make every decision on behalf of the seventh generation to come; to have compassion and love for those generations yet unborn. We were instructed to give thanks for All That Sustains Us.

He continues on, speaking of many ways the Indigenous Peoples and this earth have been treated.  And he says this:

Even though you and I are in different boats, you in your boat and we in our canoe, we share the same River of Life. What befalls me, befalls you. And downstream, downstream in this River of Life, our children will pay for our selfishness, for our greed, and for our lack of vision.

500 years ago, you came to our pristine lands of great forests, rolling plains, crystal clear lakes and streams and rivers. And we have suffered in your quest for God, for Glory, for Gold. But, we have survived. Can we survive another 500 years of “sustainable development?” I don’t think so. Not in the definitions that put `sustainable’ in today. I don’t think so.

You can read the full text of his speech here: Haudenosaunee Faithkeeper, Chief Oren Lyons addressing delegates to the United Nations Organization.

Where do I go from here?  I have a child on the way, a family to care for.  What do I do about those short-sighted people that are trying to run our lives?  How can I get them to understand that the destruction of our natural world for the short-term benefits of their greed and avarice, for their selfishness and lack of maturity, is wrong?

I am working on becoming a teacher.  I am working on becoming a father.  Both make me understand that the true quality of life is life itself — my generation, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next, and the next…

We all walk this earth together. We need to move beyond where we are – as individuals, as races, as a species – in order to find purpose and reason.

Our planet is our home; she is our life. She is fragile and she needs our protection. We must accept the responsibilities that come with power.

Voltaire said, “With great power comes comes great responsibility.”

Responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.

Rethink. Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Reimagine.





  1. […] My last post from May, 2014: […]

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