Today, on Earth Day 2018, you might hear a familiar expression: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” It’s an amorphous and difficult thing to live up to. But if we temporalize our thinking and relate the expression to family planning, it can become deeply meaningful and actionable. Who do we want future generations to be, literally, in terms of their quantity and quality? There are plenty of studies that show the quantity of future generations is a key determinant when it comes to things like mitigating climate change. But of course the quality of future generations matters as well – will they care about and care for the environment, or consume it into degradation, as we and prior generations have done?
While most environmental, child welfare, human rights and other progressive organizations are silent on the issue of family planning, a whole faction of industrialists and politicians is pushing for larger families as a means to create a glut of cheap labor and voracious consumers in the future. Yes, Elon Musk, we heard you. They know who they want future generations to be: People who will make them money.
How do we confront that threat?
Human rights are designed to protect the vulnerable from the powerful. Future generations are vulnerable to the sort of exploitation the faction of industrialists and politicians described above are intent upon. Fair Start Movement is pushing back against them with something called child-first Fair Start family planning. It’s a human rights-based family planning model designed to ensure future generations a fair start in life, functional democracies (not simply growth economies) where their voices will be heard and matter, and a clean and safe environment in which they can thrive. Its core moves are 1) to shift public thinking about family planning as something we do in isolation from others to something that is cooperative, 2) to use the benchmark of fair starts in life as something around which to orient that cooperation, and 3) to recognize the simple fact that smaller families mean a healthier environment and the ability to invest more time and love in each child.
Fair Start family planning is not designed to create future generations who will just make rich people richer.
For Earth Day, make being the change you wish to see in the world mean even more. Take action here.