Two Letters to a Child of the Future. Which of these will you write?

At this time of year, our thoughts turn to 2021 and beyond, to the longer-term future. It’s also a time when we think of our extended family members. Some may even think of members of our families yet unborn – the children of our grand-children, and their grandchildren. Indigenous wisdom, built over thousands of years, advises us to consider the implications of our actions over seven generations.

Imagine writing a letter at the end of 2020 that your grandchild will open and read years from now. Which of these would you write? Let’s hope we will act today, and in the years ahead, to make those future generations proud of us.

Letter #1

Assume that thirty years have passed.  The child is living in an environment that has been rendered barely habitable by climate change, dead oceans, soil erosion and toxic waste.

  • Explain why you did nothing to prevent this.
  • Explain how you prioritized personal gain or top-line growth, whether for a business or just for yourself.
  • Explain how easy it was to focus on the short-term, and how rarely you considered a more distant time horizon.
  • Describe your way of life, and how much time you spent commuting, watching TV, on social media and making money.
  • Tell the child how you feel about the choices you made, knowing what you know now.
Letter #2

Thirty years have passed and, thanks to a massive global effort the worst of the environmental crisis was averted.  Life on Earth is beginning to flourish in a whole new way.

  • Tell the child about the efforts you made to help reverse the trajectory of disaster threatening the planet.
  • Explain how exciting it was to focus on creative solutions.
  • Describe the experience of collaboration, discovery, invention and contribution.
  • Express your pride in the energy and care you gave to the long-term future

*  Reprinted with permission. Text © Bruce Mau reproduced from the title Bruce Mau: MC24 by Bruce Mau 2020 under licence from Phaidon Press Limited.


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