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"Life's Little Instruction Book" was written as a gift from father to son. It has many messages relevant to environmental protection.

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The following ten recommendations are excerpted from The Complete Life's Little Instruction Book, by H. Jackson Brown followed by some specifics relating to the environment.

  1. Follow the three R’s:  Respect for self, Respect for others, Responsibility for all your actions.  Some choices that will benefit us personally could have adverse impacts on others.  For example, U.S. citizens have certain rights when it comes to developing their own property.  However, such development might impact their neighbors and the “public trust.”  The public trust includes things like air, water, scenic vistas and natural resources that we can not really “own.”  That is one of the reasons why we have local, state and federal environmental laws designed to respect and protect the values of the community as a whole.

  2. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.  “Decisions on how to respond to global environmental change, energy policy or where to site a new road are all informed by values,” note the authors of Values and the Environment: a Social Science Perspective.

  3. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.  Not all conservation efforts will succeed.  But they are all great learning opportunities.

  4. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.  Generally, the longer we wait to address a mistake, the harder and more expensive it will be to rectify.  An example is introduction of invasive plants or animals. Once they gain a foothold, control becomes increasingly difficult, although it is still necessary.

  5. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.  Oh boy, does my husband wish I would subscribe to this one.  Sometimes he relies on it as a survival mechanism.

  6. Do the right thing, regardless of what others think.  This takes courage, but in the end you will not regret it.

  7. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.   Also consider whether you and your family will be proud of the legacy you leave.

  8. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.  Visit a different park, campground, ecosystem, zoo or natural history museum. It will enrich your life, and provide an opportunity to enjoy nature while learning something new.

  9. Share your knowledge.  It is a way to achieve immortality.  I hope this column assists readers in making informed decisions, and in taking steps to reduce their own environmental footprint.  I am only able to write it because others have taken the time and effort to share their knowledge and experiences in person, over the phone, and in meetings, books, newspapers, the Internet and other public forums.

  10. Be gentle with the earth. 
Originally published in the Villager newspapers on Jnuary 18, 2008
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Last updated October 25, 2016

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