Letter to The Next Generation©
as published in The Toronto Star, July 21/02

by Austin Repath

Dear Young People,

As one of those over 60, often referred to as “the silent generation”, I would like to break the silence and share with you what I’ve learned about life.  
       Let me begin by admitting that my generation has not been very responsible.  We have given you little in the way of a legacy.  We have passed on to you not only our mistakes --. nuclear proliferation, ozone depletion, clear-cutting --, but even worse, the debts incurred by a lifetime of unwise decisions and frivolous living.  Forgive us for
making such a mess of things.
        Although we do not have the right to expect you to clean up after us, unfortunately you might have to.  I, for one, don’t want to abdicate my responsibility.  If there is to be any redemption for me, it will come by working with you on just such a task.
        But first, let me share some things to remember about my generation.  We lived through the horrors of the last century -- World War II, the Holocaust, Vietnam.  Many of us are plagued by a hopeless feeling that, despite our best efforts, nothing we do will make a difference.  Yet some of us, without losing sight of this possibility, believe that there is still time to change things.  We are freer of illusion and false idealism.  In a world filled with violence, often fueled by religious ideologies, rampant nationalism and irrational hatreds, we realize that there are no easy answers.
        Looking back at my own life, I can see how day-to-day living -- job loss, marriage breakup, moves, new friendships -- has shaped me in ways I never dreamed possible.
        Life has shaken everything I ever believed to be true, taken me into places I never imagined, and taught me compassion for all living things.  I realize now that, no matter what is happening around us or to us, there will always be the opportunity to achieve in our own way some ability to love another, some level of personal integrity, and 
some degree of fulfillment.  
       I know now that it is only in the crucible of living that we find out who we are, and are able to understand and accept ourselves for what we are.  Knowing this, I am no longer afraid of what life has to offer. 
       You need to know that there are people of my generation who longs to share their experience and wisdom with you.  Many would gladly give of the wealth they have to make your dreams and ideals a reality.  We are not all buried in comfortable mindsets.
        Our generations have much to offer each other.  Even though we might question whether it is worth the effort, it might surprise both of us what we can bring to a gathering of youth and age.
        All of us see with a stark clarity that there is a desperate need to find a new way to live together on this fragile planet.  With all that I have learned, I feel hopeful that together we can bring into being a new world, far greater than any of us dare to imagine.

Yours truly,

Austin Repath

Home page;  http://www.austinrepath.com