Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Leaving a Future

If I had my life to do over, there are things I'd do differently. Let's start with the meadow in this photo, taken this summer behind my parents' place in upstate New York. The boy with two horses pulling a simple rig cutting wildflowers and grasses for hay would have been a familar sight to my grandparents and generations before them. When I was a boy, that field to me was a battleground, like something at Gettysburg or Normandy or Korea, where I played war with neighborhood kids. If a modern battle took place there, that meadow would be a dangerous place to farm, spiked with landmines, unexploded grenades, bombs, artillery rounds and toxic substances such as Agent Orange, napalm, depleted uranium.

That is not a legacy any responsible person would wish on their backyard or their nation. So, if I knew what I know now, I'd have given more thought to the future of that farm field and woods and refrained from dropping out of college to join the Army and charge off to war in Vietnam. The New York State College of Forestry, where I was so bored as a student, could have provided a good grounding for addressing what is now the greatest challenge of my lifetime--saving the world from the toxic waste of our throw-away age. But it's never too late to learn.

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