I am not haunted by ghosts of past generations, but I am haunted by the children of future generations.
I am 48 years old and have two daughters who are ages 11 and 12. If I am fortunate enough to live long enough to know their children (my future grandchildren) as they get old enough to understanding things about the world in which they live, I can imagine that they will have comments and questions that will be difficult for me and members of my generation to hear if we do not make radical changes for a more just, peaceful, and sustainable planet for their sake and for the sake of all future generations of humans and all life.
What follows is a sample of some of the things I think my future grandchildren might say about the world in which they will live and about what we did or did not do so that they might inherit a more just and livable planet. The context I am working with is Oklahoma in the United States and the United Methodist Church, in which I am an ordained minister. Over time, I plan to add to this list and ask my children to develop some artwork to go with what their future children might say. My children may also want to imagine some of the things their children might say and add these to the collection as well. In the comments, feel free to add some of the things you think children and youth 25 to 30 years from now might say about their world and our contributions to how it might be. I will take some of my favorites and with your permission add them to the list.
“Let me get this straight. They put people who had marijuana in prison but not people who clear cut forests, blew off the tops of mountains, and stripped large areas of boreal forests off the earth to get to oil sands? That is messed up.”
“What were unions?”
“You had how many earthquakes in Oklahoma in 2014? That’s just crazy!”
“How big did the earthquakes get in Oklahoma before people did something about it? Did anyone get hurt or die?”
“Our church really put ministers on trial for helping people get married? Are you kidding me?” – (in reference to the United Methodist Church’s current practice of putting ministers on trial who perform same gender weddings).
“There weren’t always summer cruises to the North Pole?”
“When you came here as a kid, there were glaciers on that mountain?” (in reference to the Olympic Mountains that I visited each year from 1976 to 1999.
“You blew off the tops of mountains for electricity? Really?”
“97% of climate scientists were telling you this would happen, and you all still didn’t do anything to stop it?!”
“So what you’re telling us grandpa is that when you were younger, people were getting upset about persons who are LGBTQ wanting to get married, but they weren’t getting upset enough to do anything about climate change? Wow! Just wow!”
“We were having a discussion in history today. Whose idea was it to let a person named Senator James Inhofe be chair of the US Senate Environment Committee? What did people back then have against our generation?”
“Did a lot of people really used to go bankrupt if they got sick?”
“The highest court in the land really thought it was a good idea for our country to let people spend as much money as they want on elections? Who appointed these people to be judges?”
Your turn. What are some things you imagine children and youth saying 25 years from today? Hopefully as we imagine what future children and grandchildren might say, we may get a clearer picture of how the way live today will affect their lives and well-being. As I continue this project, I will also begin to imagine what my future grandchildren might say if we actually muster the social and political will to bequeath to them a more just, peaceful, and sustainable planet.