There comes a time, it seems to me, when each generation realizes it’s made a mess of things. Well, at least the thinking members of a generation do. I mentioned a few days ago that I kind of idealize the sixties. The book about them that I mentioned wasn’t shy about showing the misguided aspects of the time. In many respects life is better for many—not for all, and that’s important to remember!—and we’re more connected with better, if too expensive, medicine. More people are finding some kind of enlightenment and realizing that we continue to use up this limited planet far too swiftly. At the moments when such thoughts become oppressive, I recall the young. Perhaps we’ve done something right by gifting ourselves our forward-looking offspring.
A website my wife recently pointed out to me, Sustainable Millennial, is a locus of hope. For too long we’ve bought the lie that anything really is disposable. Bread cast upon the waters comes back, even if you put it on a rocket and send it to space. You see, society has bought into what was a deliberate economic plan—help people find meaning in consuming (the war was over and the economy slowing, we were restless). If you could get people to spend money for things to make themselves happy, well, just ask MC for the results. Problem is you only have room for so much stuff. Better make it “disposable.” Trash heaps never fill up, do they? Heaps become hills and hills become mountains, and all the sudden we need to get Daniel on the phone.
Our young understand something we’re slow to ken. We’ve polluted, used up, and “thrown away” what can never be replaced. The good news is that there are other ways to live. We can reduce waste and even stop paving any space wide enough for a car to squeeze through. All that’s being made is mere money. What we’ve needed is voices not long enough vested in the system to try to change it. By the time you’re middle aged you spend far too much energy trying to figure out how retirement’s supposed to work to have any left over to challenge the system. The young are, and always have been, the future. There are fewer angry white men because they realize that the plan of their forebears for personal gain simply hasn’t worked for the majority of people. Daniel isn’t the only visionary, but even his young companions fade before they started worrying about disbursements and tax consequences. If the young don’t lead we’re lost.