A friend just posted a humbling piece about our generation’s failure to better heal the environmental wounds we have, as a species, inflicted on our planet. He spoke of the guilt and pain we feel for that failure, and a degree of pessimism about the next generation’s commitment and prospects.
The sins of the fathers . . .
BY CHRIS MADSON, ON AUGUST 3RD, 2018
GUILT, THE PSYCHOLOGISTS SAY, IS A CORROSIVE EMOTION. SO IS REGRET, THEY SAY. AND I SUPPOSE they’re right. Obsessing over mistakes that have already been made may not be a good recipe for maintaining mental health, let alone finding constructive solutions for intransigent problems. It’s possible that such emotions are best left to old people who have the time and memories to indulge them. That may be why I find myself so often despondent these days— an old man looking over his shoulder at what might have been. More at http://www.thelandethic.com/?p=330
I see optimism and enthusiasm, and positive things our youth say and do. Then I watch as that optimism and enthusiasm often fades to growing indifference and inaction, perhaps born out of the same pessimism many of our generation now feel. Aging, and the daily trials of life, too often sap away commitments of youth, until the years find us to be that ‘old man’.
We (universally) have been on a self-destructive course for decades, or longer. One can argue that during earlier times it was due to ignorance coupled with a population well within the carrying capacity of the planet. Absent a crisis, the inexorable trends proceeded in silence – Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ aside, published in 1962 just two years after my high school graduation.
Neither ignorance of our impacts, individually and collectively, nor sustainable population has been the case for decades. We know better. We now know there are too many of us for the limited resources of this planet to support. Natural processes will likely fix these problems. If we don’t very soon intervene, those left to clean up, if any, will have learned the hard way. Someone once said, wisely – ‘Mother Nature bats last’.
Then, this is all mere whining, or the rantings of another old man, if we don’t adequately respond to the question: So, what should/must we do? – emphasis on the ‘do’. And the ‘we’ means each one of us, regardless of age or circumstances. The ‘do’ can mean everything from making wiser personal choices about our life styles and resource uses to speaking up and holding those in authority accountable for their decisions – most notably politicians and their operatives in relevant agencies. More of us need to step up and speak for the planet – and ultimately the generations that follow us.
Perhaps the next generation will still be able to look back and similarly bemoan their failures from a place of reasonable comfort, but I fear deeply for my grandchildren.
j.a. mosher, 24 August 2018