Sunday, August 24, 2008

Into the Future II

According to recent news stories on the Internet, Tropical Storm Fay has made a record four landfalls in Florida. Interestingly enough, my cousin’s son Forest has just moved to Florida to go to college. This summer, the town that he has lived in his whole life has been holding meetings about whether to move to higher ground. It has had two “hundred year floods” in a handful of years.

How many weather records will Forest see broken in his lifetime? Right now, the predictions on global warming suggest there will be many records broken and this will occur more and more often as the years progress. What will this mean for the basics of life? How will this affect where Forest and his generation live, how they build their homes, how much stuff they can accumulate? How will this affect what they will eat, where and how they will get their food? How will this affect their jobs, where they work, how they work? How will this affect their families, who they consider family, how they relate to their families? How will this affect their sense of community?

Often my parents and their contemporaries struggled to understand what they saw as my generation’s lack of commitment, why we didn’t stay in the same jobs for forty years, why we didn’t stay in the same towns where we grew up. For many, it was more comforting to think that my generation just didn’t have our priorities straight, rather than that we were responding to a changing world.

How can those of us who are middle-aged and older, acknowledge that our world--literally the very planet that we live on—is changing faster than at any other time in our history and then help the younger generations in preparing for the future? One day during meditation the term “handmaiden to the future” came into my head. How can I be a good handmaiden to the future? Like most journeys of the mind, the road to the answer begins with asking the question.

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