Monday, June 28, 2010

Stranded on a desert island

Tonight at dinner, I asked my two boys what they would take with them if they were stranded on a desert island. I expected them to say something like playstations or TVs or chocolates or footballs or books. But when they replied, I discovered that I have the two most wonderful boys in the world (although I may be slightly biased).

My youngest son said that he would take me. I was really touched by this, not only because I was his first choice, but also because despite all the material things he could have chosen, he wanted love instead.

Our family doesn’t have a lot of money. And there are times when I look at the catalogues and think of all the things I wish I could buy my children. And I know there are times when they wish we could afford a lot more than we can. It can be hard living in a world that constantly tells you that you need this toy and that game and this food and those clothes, when you can’t really afford to get any of it. But in the end, I wonder how much it really matters. Because when given a choice of anything, most people would prefer to have love. It is so much more important than material items. And I am so glad my son recognised that.

As for my eldest son, he chose the smart answer. He told me he would take a ship so that he could get off the island. Love is wonderful and important. But I have to give credit to my son for thinking about the future!

As for my answer? I’m almost ashamed to say it now. What I wanted to take on my desert island, the very first thing I thought of -- it was my iPod. It didn’t even exist 10 years ago. Now I can’t bear the thought of any length of time without it. Okay, if I had really thought about it, instead of just saying the first thing that popped into my head, I would have chosen my children. I’d much rather have them than my iPod any day. But it’s pretty sad that I wanted my iPod on a desert island. In fact, I’m still having trouble thinking of how exactly I would survive on a desert island without my iPod - or diet coke for that moment.

In a way, we are all stranded on an island. It’s an island floating in space. As much smarter people than me have pointed out, this earth is all we have. We don’t have anywhere else to go.

And we need to ask what it is we really want while we’re here? Are we going to use up the earth’s resources making things like diet coke and iPods? Treat them as our main priority. Or are we going to recognise that love (including love for others and love for the planet) is far more important than material things? We don’t have a ship that can take us to another place. But maybe we should start realising that we need things that can guarantee our future.

I sometimes get pretty depressed about where the world is heading. But as the boys and I gave our answers around the dinner table tonight, I felt a glimmer of hope. It was obvious that the younger generation has a far better idea of what’s important than I do.


  1. What cool kids! I hope my daughter will give as meaningful an answer - when she can talk. (She's 10 months old).

    I just read "No Man is an Island" by Merton and it's great stuff. Earth may be an island floating in space, but it's certainly not deserted. I agree we should hope and live for love more than material things. I have come at the issue from a different perspective - my family actually has a lot of money ...

  2. Thanks Luke,

    I find that the more I talk about things with my children and the more I get them to think about what's really important, the more likely they are to surprise me with meaningful answers when I least expect them.




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