Life preservers protect children(and grandmothers)from unexpected boat accidents. We take care to keep our children safe. Yet so many people from my very large post-War generation are reckless about what we are leaving these same children. I recently saw a large recreational vehicle proudly displaying a bumper sticker which said:”We Are Spending Our Children’s Inheritance.” What message underlies that sticker? And how true it seems sometimes in the larger picture.
My generation has a responsibility to the ones that come after us. Our parents and grandparents had no doubt about values and traditions they wanted to impart. They accepted the title of “elder” willingly instead of trying to pretend that they were “only as old as you feel,” implying that old age is an emotion rather than a reality. Somehow many of my peers are failing to take up the mantle left us by the so-called “Greatest Generation.” Perhaps giving it that moniker left the impression that we could never live up, so why try.
Instead of buying more toys (bumper sticker “He Who Dies With the Most Toys Wins”) we need to focus on what we owe those who come after us. I am not sure what that will look like, but I am eager to find out. Right now I take encouragement from a friend, a retired optician, who discovered his skills were desperately needed in Haiti. He joined a team which went there and he spent the day fitting donated glasses. He told me of the joy of a grandmother who only wanted to be able to see to thread a needle. Simple for him with his years of experience, life changing for her.
I am looking forward to seeing how our collective wisdom and experience can benefit the world around us. Too little depends on the political leadership. The rest depends on us.