These questions are at the heart of the Feather Project which seeks to bring together young and old people to create solutions for the problems facing the planet.
Launched by the award-winning humanitarian Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp from the Netherlands, the project states that using the wisdom of elders, the dreams of the young, and the world’s spiritual traditions we can create a more sustainable planet.
Rabbi Soetendorp also notes that the key to safeguarding the planet is intergenerational dialogue in which wisdom is passed on and the hopes and wishes of the future generations are expressed.
He wrote: “It is the natural but too often neglected passionate cooperation between the generations, blending the lessons from the past with daring visions for the future that will pull us out of the trap of self-indulgence and callousness, which could only lead to destruction of ourselves and the diversity of all life.”
Jewish Principle of Tikkun Olam
The inter-generational project is inspired by the Earth Charter which was set up to promote the transition to sustainable ways of living and create a global society founded on an ethical framework that includes respect for ecological integrity. The feather is used as a symbol of thought and dialogue and so it gets passed on from one person to another as they express themselves. As well as native American imagery and wisdom which are present in the scheme, the project is also influenced by the unique Jewish experience in Europe.
The Feather Project falls under the Jacob Soetendorp Institute for Human Values founded by Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp to honour his father who worked tirelessly to rebuild Jewish life in the Netherlands after the Shoa, as well as his foster parents who risked their lives to hide him from Nazi persecution in 1943. The Institute is guided by the universal principle of tikkun olam, the Jewish mandate to repair a world that is broken and its work includes collaboration between the religions and promoting environmental awareness.
Time For Action Is Now
Personal testimonies shared during the Feather Project included those by Rabbi Soetendorp and how he was saved as a child during World War Two. Pakistani human rights lawyer Parvez Hassan, who attended the launch of the project along with Dutch Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende, also shared his concerns that the current generation will leave behind a world full of treaties, laws and principles but no action. He added that it is the core task of the next generation to do better than the elders and start walking the talk by implementing the rules and principles that have been drafted.
In fact, the main aim of the project is to inspire youth from around the world to share their wishes for the future of the planet. Young people are invited to record and upload their own “feather messages” in which they share their visions for the future, and interview elders in their communities about their life experiences.
If you’re under 35, share your ‘feather vision’ either through writing, video or even drawing and hopefully you will inspire a more sustainable future for posterity.
Image via Woodley Wonderworks on Flickr.
For more on Faith and Sustainability see: