One must care about the world one will never see…

Red-eyed tree frog.Credit: ScienceDaily.com

Red-eyed tree frog.
Credit: ScienceDaily.com

I’ve been reflecting a good deal today as I’m in the post-chemo not quite right period where my body is wondering what I’ve done to it while my brain is merrily trying to orchestrate anything that happens to pop in there.  I find misalignment between brain and body a little disconcerting. Normally they act with faultless synchronicity but a ripple in the water is always an opportunity for exploration and today I decided to mull over the cardinal virtue of prudence.

I normally associate prudence with finances, being thrifty and economical.  I walked a financial tightrope for a number of years in my youth and had to learn how to make ends meet, keep on top of my bills and still put food on the table.  It was a challenge but it taught me how to value every penny and many years later I still do.  It’s just as well because as many people know having a chronic or critical illness is expensive.  But I don’t want to dwell on finances today; instead I’ll ponder the wider meanings of prudence:

  • having good sense and judgement
  • being careful and sensible
  • discerning, mindful, sagacious

I stumbled across this Bertrand Russell quote about prudence: “One must care about the world one will never see.”  It gave me pause for considerable thought because for me it speaks at many levels.

There’s a world I’ll never see under the leaf-litter, deep in the oceans and beneath the rain forest canopies.  I know it’s there but I don’t have access to it.

Similarly, although our individual time on earth might seem lengthy at the outset in reality we’re each here for just a nanosecond. Others, future generations, follow behind.

Considering the world I’ll never see prompted me to think whatever we do here today leaves a legacy future generations will have to contend with tomorrow.  Much of that legacy is beneficial – innovative technologies, improved drugs, new engineering techniques – but some elements are less helpful.  Pollution, deforestation, decimation of plant and animal species. In the last 25 years it’s estimated more than 120 species of amphibians have become extinct and that’s just one example.  Now I know frogs, toads and newts aren’t cuddly but does it mean I shouldn’t care?

I suppose I could say this kind of thing is not my problem, why worry over it when there’s so much else to contend with these days. Our future generations will undoubtedly have squabbling politicians, hi-tec gadgets and a plethora of new gizmos to help them recover from the mess we left behind.

But that’s the trouble, I’m not good with a guilty conscience.  I never leave my dirty dishes in the sink because I know it’ll stop anyone else using it and I don’t expect other people to clear up after me.  I’m also fairly certain that after a while dirty dishes start to stink. It might be easier, less physical effort to leave the dishes but I can’t do it because I think Bertrand Russell was right – “one must care about the world one will never see.”  I’ll  add John Milton for good measure too – “prudence is the virtue by which we discern what is proper to do under various circumstances in time and place.”

There’s a lot to be said for having good sense and judgement, being careful, mindful and sagacious, not just for today but tomorrow. Especially when it’s someone else’s tomorrow…

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21 thoughts on “One must care about the world one will never see…

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  5. Hi Tracy,
    I know you already have 2, but I think you deserve 3, so I’ve nominated you for another Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I just wanted to let you know that I think your blog is great!
    Happy New Year! xo

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    • Hi Tracy,
      I’ll blame it on my chemobrain! 🙂 But when I was doing the nominations, I realized you had a VIB Award, so I nominated you for The Reality Blog Award. There are no rules for this one!
      Warmest thoughts…

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      • Ah chemobrain, I know that feeling (still cannot find the mirror or contact lenses I ‘put away’ a month ago). Thank you so much for the award, I’m touched and honoured. Hope you’re having a good week and wishing you only very, very good weeks throughout this year.

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  6. I love the picture. And all your thoughts and values. I too love Frogs, Toads, Newts and a plethora of other things that don’t come on the ‘Cuddly’ list!
    As for being Odd, Strange or Mad, you inherit some of your values from your parents, so I am partly to blame! You were always encouraged to take an interest in the world around you and to care for all of ‘God’s’ creatures. None of these creatures is ‘More’ or ‘Less’ important than any other, including us ‘Human Beings.’ Our children are our ‘gift’ to the world. They carry our genes and our hopes for a better future. In a way, they are ‘Reincarnation’ in progress.
    Thank you too for the wonderful quotes. It’s always nice to know that a father is still able to learn something new, courtesy of his daughter 🙂 ‘Keep on Blogging’ – it suits you!

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  7. Tracy,
    I sense another award coming, something like the Selfless Blogger Award. Thank you for putting our actions into perspective. As a father, I must agree with your point of view to sustain the lives of my sons. {{{Hugs}}}

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    • Your sons are beautiful and I sense they’ll develop an awareness of themselves and the world that goes beyond the here and now. Like me, they have awesome parents and that makes such a difference. Big hugs Kozo, for you and your family.

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  8. Thanks a million.
    Keep on writing 🙂 Kids like me would love to learn more ❤ while living in this world keeping in mind that "one must care about the world one will never see" 🙂

    Really love the second last para N for me that's the real kernel of the story; besides the metaphor (dirty dishes) you used is intact.N conveying a lot.

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    • Thank you Britton. I worry sometimes that I’m slightly odd/strange/mad to be preoccupied with all this stuff and I ramble on about things too much…. It comes of having an active mind trapped in a body that’s got more work to do to fix itself up again! It’s good to find I’m not alone here and my thoughts have meaning for you too. I’ll keep writing and hope you’ll keep enjoying these little thoughts and ponderings 🙂

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      • My pleasure. And, you are welcome 🙂

        I don’t think there’s a great deal of meaning for “strange-ness” N “normal-ity” It’s all a kind of verbal illusion. Keep on doing what you feel the best.

        Keep better times rolling 🙂

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  9. I know this is pretty off topic, but I adore tree frogs! Even after I put my hand on one during a middle of the night visit to the outdoor loo in a jungle in India in the dark…. I still love them. They are the loveliest creatures, if slightly slimy in the dark in India

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    • Oh no, now the green eyed monster might creep up on me… I confess I love frogs and I’d really love to see tree frogs in the wild. I have lots of common frogs, toads and great crested newts in the garden here but there’s something very special and engaging about tree frogs, even if they’re a little slimy.

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