by Marsha Rakestraw

There’s a popular thought experiment involving a lifeboat, a dog, and one or more humans.

The discussion is basically an either/or: the human(s) or the dog – who gets tossed overboard?

As in many areas of our society, most adults automatically choose the humans. So long dog.

But when ecologist and evolutionary biologist Marc Bekoff posed this question to a group of third graders, he got a very different answer:

Why does anyone have to be thrown over? Let’s save everyone.

The third-side, creative thinking of these children demonstrates the kind of thinking that all of us need, so that we can nurture a just, compassionate, sustainable world for all beings.

How can we secure sufficient food, shelter, transportation, livelihood, security, and the other basics that we need without throwing overboard other people, animals, or the earth?

Too often when we encounter challenges, we as a society reach for the quickest, least expensive response, which usually emphasizes an either/or lens and causes harm to someone/something.

It’s essential that we establish as our default problem-solving strategy a lens that seeks out creative solutions that do the most good and least harm and that respects and honors the needs and interests of all.

If you’re an educator, you can use our activities like Spaceship Earth and Sustainer to help your students explore ways of living that are sustainable for all.