One the most refreshing things about young people is their honesty. During Sunday School, it was my job to shepherd a group of boys from 10 to 16 years old to figure out an Earth Day project that could be accomplished during a Sunday morning.
"What about raising chickens?" I asked. "Has anyone raised chickens?" Calvin, 15, scowled and shared his second-hand knowledge.
"They're stupid and they're a lot more work than you think. You give them fresh water and they poop in it immediately. They are stupid. They smell and they're dirty. You have to shovel out the poop from their coop to keep them clean. You have to take care of them a lot. My sister keeps them in our barn."
After the condemnation of chickens, it was hard to muster enthusiasm from the rest of the class. Like most Americans, they are so far removed from the experience of hunger, or from the intellectual possibility of peak oil and a social collapse, chickens are no more than an inconvenient pet.
The youths reflect the values of their elders -- chickens smell and they require regular care and feeding, which should be avoided and left to the CAFOs -- Confined Animal Feeding Operation.
I asked them what motivated people to take action. Calvin answered, "Our moral compass." I suggested fear, which they rejected. Money was also suggested as a motivation and similarly discarded.
The main reason people change is because everyone else changes. We are herd animals, we follow the trends. We do act out of fear of not fitting in and to save money.
What makes you change the way you've always done things? Why do you -- or do you not -- recycle, wear seat belts, not smoke in public?
BTW- they decided to either work on a community garden project or pickup litter in town in honor of Earth Day.