A Natural Bond

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Hearing stories about parenthood cannot begin to prepare you for the startling switch in perspective and the accompanying change in thoughts and feelings that come with it.

Within weeks after my daughter was born in the 1980s,I began to understand what it meant to be responsible for someone who is both an extension of myself and yet a completely separate individual.

My child would grow up at a time when advances in science and technology were making the world safer and more comfortable for many people. But at the same time,global threats such as pandemics, nuclear weapons and environmental degradation were and are creating new challenges that jeopardise the existence of humans and other living things.

I realised that my child’s well being is inseparable from Nature’s well being. Nature is not the infinitely regenerating and omnipotent entity I had previously taken for granted. A specific example is climate change. I might not be alive to

suffer the more serious effects but my daughter and her generation will. So what’s the point of doing our best for her welfare, education and health if we allow the environment she will live in to be compromised by our negligence and abuse?

Beyond the macro-level of a sustainable future, I later observed what a remarkable teacher Nature can be in daily encounters. Though increasingly crowded and urbanised, Singapore is not devoid of authentic encounters with nature.A pair of bulbuls nesting in a spindly shrub just outside my daughter’s bedroom window brought her more excitement than visits to the zoo or nature documentaries as she watched the birds’ family saga unfold as eggs hatched and nestlings were tended by their parents. This and other contact with nature stimulated her intellectual curiosity, resilience, inner contentment and independence. Above all, they gave her “a sense of wonder” as described by Rachel Carson, the founder of the modern day environmental movement.

My child’s well-being is inextricably linked to the health of our planet — and my responsibility as a mother is to the future of both.


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