Mary Catherine Bateson is a cultural anthropologist, the daughter of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. Here’s a thought-provoking snippet from Stewart Brand’s summary of her talk at the Long Now Foundation:
The birth of a first child is the most intense disruption that most adults experience. Suddenly the new parents have no sleep, no social life, no sex, and they have to keep up with a child that changes from week to week. “Two ignorant adults learn from the newborn how to be decent parents.” Everything now has to be planned ahead, and the realization sinks in that it will go on that way for twenty years.
Herself reflecting on parenthood, Bateson proposed that the metaphor of “mother Earth” is no longer accurate or helpful. Human impact on nature is now so complete and irreversible that we’re better off thinking of the planet as if it were our first child. It will be here after us. Its future is unknown and uncontrollable. We are forced to plan ahead for it. Our first obligation is to keep it from harm. We are learning from it how to be decent parents.