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