Thank you Larry, for your very gracious and humbling introduction.
Let me note, we are joined this evening by my friend Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland who has played such an important role in making No Child Left Inside a reality.
I understand that tomorrow you will be honoring Don Baugh, Vice President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and chair of the No Child Left Inside Coalition -- both in Maryland and nationally, an outstanding partner.
To everyone with the National Wildlife Federation, thank you for recognizing the better choices being made by the people of Maryland, and thank you for what you do every day on behalf of conservation and the better choices we must make together for the prosperity of our children.
There is an Absolute Direction of Growth
David Hollenbach of Boston College writes that, "When people interact in a way that expresses reciprocal respect for their dignity as persons, their well-being becomes a shared good, the good of each member increases or decreases as the common good grows or declines, for the well-being of each is linked with that of the others through their reciprocal relationships."
The same can now be said of mankind and our relationship to the other species -- plant and animal -- of this finite and interdependent planet.
There is an urgency to our work. With a 30 percent depletion of our earth's biodiversity since 1970, human choices have become terribly powerful things on this finite globe,
If we are to create a future of generational prosperity, we must chose a more sustainable way forward; forward from a history of depletion to a future of balance, a future of regeneration, a future of conservation by the design of our more mindful and thoughtful choices.
In Maryland, we consider ourselves pro-growth Americans. You see, we believe in growing jobs, and growing opportunity. Like you, we believe in children growing healthy, growing educated, and growing strong. We believe in grandparents growing old with dignity and love. Like you we believe in growing trees, growing stream buffers, growing food for a hungry world. We believe in prosperity for every generation.
We believe that together, we are called upon to accomplish what Thomas Berry called, "The Great Work." It is the work of healing and restoring the common good we share with all natural beings. Growing in our mindfulness, growing in our awareness, growing in our understanding of the balance we must rediscover and reconcile with the other living systems of this one Earth -- the Earth we choose to share, or not share, with future generations.
For as a great man once observed, " there is an absolute direction to growth. And life moves in that direction. And life is never mistaken, either about its road or its destination. It tells toward what part of the horizon we must steer if we are to see the dawn's light grow more bright."