I came across this photo in "The Commons" (http://www.flickr.com/commons/) on flick the other day. It's a pretty cool place. Full of photos from all over the world and from every time period that's been photographed. Anyway, I came across this one:
The caption to the images reads like this: "Juichende jongens bij de voetbalwedstrijd VSV-DFC (1-0) als VSV scoort. Velsen, Nederland, 18 oktober 1931.
Boys cheering when their favorite team scores.
I found it in relation to world cup things I've been looking up, but I've been unable to close the tab in my browser for a few days. I keep looking at this photo and thinking about it. I keep thinking about these boys. I wonder how many are still alive. I think about them cheering at this soccer game and I can't help but think about the timeperiod. October 1931. They had no idea what was going on in Germany and what they would witness in their lifetime. They didn't know their young adulthood would be stolen from them by war. That their friends, parents, relatives might die in the terrible battles that would rip the Netherlands to shreds in the next decade. These boys are around my grandparents age and I've heard stories about the war's reach in Holland. Stories of the Nazis taking my grandfather right off his bike on his way to church. Stories of my grandmother hiding him in her mattress when the soldiers came to the door to find young men for work camps. Stories that contributed to my grandparents decision to leave their home country and come by boat with their two small children to a country they'd never seen. However, the point that I think about when I look at these boys, is that they were unknowingly on the precipice of a catastrophic disaster for the human race and that every generation to some extent or another has this experience. It is the lesson of every history that what one generation breeds, will come to fruition in another. Maybe not right away, maybe in combination with other forces and factors, but always to devastating effect.
I worry about this. Our world has obviously not (and may never) outgrow full out, undeniably violent, unjustifiable warfare. There is a significant percentage of our 6 billion brothers and sisters who live in constant fear of violent death within the context of conflict. And I worry about that. But in the city where I live, in a province like mine, in the country I call home, violent conflict is not always at the forefront and we forget that we, like these boys in the Dutch photo, are on the edge of something so terribly destructive that it will change every aspect of our lives and culture.
I'm talking about the way my generation and the generation before mine have treated the earth and its resources with disregard and outright violence. I worry about what I will live to see. What I will witness and how the lives of my children and grandchildren will be affected by the choices we make today as a culture, as a community and as individuals.
What I worry most about is the relationship we have with the earth in terms of its power to GROW. This summer, I gave up my lucrative landscaping job to return to the market garden farm I worked on years ago. This was not a good financial decision. Today I spent 8 hours walking long lines of broccoli and cabbage going after weeds with a hoe. This kind of work gives me a lot of time to think. I like doing physical, outdoor labour in the summer, but I particularly like this work. I think about the people who will buy these veggies at market and feed them to their families, how they made a choice to buy local food from people whose hands are still ingrained with the dirt that the produce was sitting in only hours before. I think about what it has taken to get this food to their table and I am proud of what I do. I have had the opportunity to receive an education that only the very privileged of this world obtain. I have a degree to my name and though that might not be so outstanding in Canada, in global terms, I am privileged indeed! I've had this degree for 4 years and I'm still labouring in fields. And it's exactly where I want to be. I am a part of growing food locally, sustainably and full of flavour that the produce that gets shipped across the globe for days and weeks can't compete with.
And yet I worry. In a world that puts more oil consumption into its food than its cars, in a culture that demands cheapness and convenience as a replacement for nutrition and quality, how do we instill a sustainable, realistic and powerful sense of food and land in our generation and the one to come? We are sitting on the edge of the consequences of our poor decisions and we have no idea how desperately it will impact us and the generation to come.