Interesting proverb, I like it! The way I’d interpret it is that whatever we do to the world is given to our descendents. If we spend our life cutting down trees and polluting the air, that’s what our children get. Conversely, if we spend our life planting trees and cutting down on emissions, that’s also what our children get.
This proverb highlights the idea that environmental change has long-reaching consequences, but it’s not usually us that have to deal with these consequences- it’s future generations.
I agree with phillius. We have to think in terms of the Earth as something that is on loan, not something that we have been given to do with what we please.
Many people have the mindset that we can do whatever we want with the Earth because our ancestors did, and we won’t be around to see what happens. But when we borrow something from someone, we want to make sure we return it in the same condition we got it in, and maybe even in better condition, if that’s possible. We are making progress, but as generation after generation pollutes, we are giving “back” the Earth to our children worse than it was when we got it. Not a very nice thing to do.
We seem to often take for granted what is before us. This both comes in the mentality that what we have is for the taken and that the problems we deal with are the fault of those before us. Yet in the end the environment is not for consumption it is for sustenance. Instead of looking to the faults of the past and difficulties of the present, we must look to the possibility of the future.
I would encourage you to do your own homework.
The entire quotation is, “Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” It is a Native American proverb, and it means that we need to consider our immediate, individual actions as they relate to the long-term consequences for humanity.
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