Three Fathers for Father’s Day

Last week, Capital Institute and Benjamin Barber’s Interdependence Movement co-convened a conversation at NYU’s Kimmel Center titled, “Ecological and Economic Interdependence: A Conversation with Bill McKibben and Graciela Chichilnisky.” The video link will be available on our site soon. As I sit here on Father’s Day thinking back on the event, thoughts of three fathers come to mind. The first father is Benjamin Barber. He is a father of 3, he fathered the idea for the conversation, and he generously invited Capital Institute to join in its creation. He is also the father of the Interdependence Movement. His Interdependence work, which sprang up from the ashes of 9-11 is in the realm of raising consciousness, which he sees as the critical challenge facing humanity at the beginning of the 21st century. On this 10th anniversary of 9-11, the Interdependence Movement will be in New York, down at ground zero. Capital Institute will be there showing our support. Don’t miss it. The second father is Bill McKibben, father of one daughter. One of the world’s leading environmental leaders and now carbon activist, Bill is also the father of 350 is the number of parts per million scientists tell us is the maximum permissible level of carbon the atmosphere can absorb without triggering life-altering shifts in the earth’s climate. Today we are at 394 PPM, and rising at an accelerating rate from just under 1 PPM per year during the 1960s to just about 2 PPM per year in the first decade of the 21st century, which includes the great recession. Bill’s dedication to the cause of fighting carbon pollution is truly heroic. He admitted to being on the road 240 days last year. “240 fighting for 350.” I was so moved by this I took out my checkbook and filled out “”

Finally, the third father the conversation evoked is my own father, age 94, father of two. Several years ago, he and I took a road trip over three days during which I had a chance to ask him to reflect on the formative experiences in his life. By far the most important and positive period in his life, based on the immediacy and emotion in his response, was the War. He was in the Navy, stationed off Omaha during D-Day, and later in command of a sub-chaser in the Pacific. The War was of course frightfully challenging and filled with pain and suffering. But the common purpose and collective sacrifice he experienced for a vital and just cause still represent the formative experience of his life, define his identity, and provide his life’s great meaning. As I ponder the challenges ahead for my children in theAnthropocene, I’m comforted by the prospect of a similar cooperative spirit, joint sacrifice, and common purpose. One of the questions to the panel at NYU was about how to balance the need for a great sense of urgency in tackling all our sustainability challenges with the wisdom that we know we need to exercise patience in the process. This question drew me back to one of the guiding inspirations of Capital Institute’s ambitious work: “Never hurry, never rest.” – Goethe