When I was eight years old, we used ice cube trays instead of the automatic dispensers that come standard with refrigerators today.
As a family, we weren't very organized in our approach. Instead of emptying both trays into a container, then refilling them both at once, we would instead take singles out of each tray until one unlucky family member was left with a single cube. Then, to add insult, that person (usually my sister) would have to refill both trays.
I just spent a week at WildSPEAK, where some of the best conservation photographers in the world came together to tell their stories. Their images were projected upon a hazy backdrop of our country's direction toward its stewardship of the planet's health.
Conservation photographers are different than you or I. They tend to be scientists and naturalists first, using their imaging prowess to illustrate their findings. So every story includes a healthy dose of the research behind it.
As a group, they are not alarmists. But neither are they shy about discussing where the data are pointing. I know there were many moments throughout the week when I was more emotional than the presenters.
But that's their job. No one, especially these days, wants to listen to a whining, bleeding heart lamenting the loss of polar bears. But to show breathtaking images of them in their declining habitat, and discuss how that situation also affects us... well, that's adult talk. And I think adult talk should be respected.
When I think about what I can do for my boys, I don't want to leave a mess for them to clean up. Or even worse, a problem that cannot be fixed. Sounds simple, doesn't it? And yet, I feel like I'm failing them.
In the final analysis, conservation policies are really about protecting people. And if we can save the big cats and elephants along the way, all the better. I don't think a lot of folks realize that scientists are really talking about their family, their friends, and their quality of life.
And that's why I don't understand why this message isn't resonating. Personally, I do care about the African wildlife population. I love diversity of species on this planet. But I also understand why some other's don't. They just can't relate to it. Fair enough.
But what parent doesn't care about their child? That is something that Americans can agree upon, right?
I was lucky growing up. When I turned the faucet handle in the kitchen, there was always fresh water to refill the ice cube trays (the few times that I actually did it). I had no idea at the time what a blessing that mundane task was.
But then again, I was kid. And a kid shouldn't have to think about such things.