I have been thinking a lot lately about those who have gone before, we who are here now, and the ones who will come after us.
I have been thinking about this in light of the losses of family and friends and the anniversaries of those events. I have been thinking about it in light of the present state of our country and the broader world. I have been thinking about it in personal, political, spiritual, religious, academic, socio-economic, historical and evolutionary contexts.
We have been endowed by our creator with intellect, reason, and free will. We have been given the gift of thousands or even millions of years of historical experience, learning and evolution that has changed the way we exist in, and see, our present day world. We live in one of the most prosperous nations on earth, with the most material possessions, one of the highest standards of living, and the most opportunity for challenge, growth and success that humankind has ever had.
What do we do with this extraordinary set of circumstances, this opportunity to strive and excel and create and support each other and grow?
We ostracize, isolate, and exclude.
We feel fear, great fear, for we do not trust ourselves enough to guarantee our present or those we listen to to guarantee our future.
That fear is expressed as anger. Anger not at ourselves, because that would be too painful, but anger at those around us. Anger at those we entrust with planning things, running things, fixing things. Anger at those who would protect us and nurture us. Anger that does not spur us to action, but to entitlement.
We are so sad and afraid and angry that we do not know how to talk to one another any more. We do not remember how to express our needs. We cannot expectantly and reverently ask for help, but we can demand it, fists pumping and a spittle flying. We dare not be honest with each other. We dare not challenge irrationality, bigotry, intolerance and greed. We hate the very ones we should be challenging, and this only makes the self-loathing settle deeper into our collective national soul.
When I am honest with myself, when I strip away all the hope and fear, when I distance myself from the heated political rhetoric, the hate, the intolerance, and the mistrust that we are suffering through in this country, I am left with one overarching conclusion.
We, you and I, are custodians. Pure and simple. We are custodians.
We have a great stock of knowledge, a great institutional memory that encompasses the wisdom of past generations and the institutions that govern us today.
We are obligated to pass it on.
We have the ability to leave the world a better place than we found it.
It is unconscionable to make it worse for generations to come.
We have the power to include, to incorporate, to assimilate, to welcome and to support those who are not like us, do not speak our language, do not dress as we do, or hold the same traditions dear.
It is a crime to exclude, cast out, shun, and actively suppress them. A moral travesty.
We have the power to use our system of laws to make our country and the world at large a better place for everyone.
The political and administrative machinations that are unfolding around us are a farce. A pitiful ploy by the coddled few to hold onto power that they never had to ensure for themselves a future they will never live to see.
We are custodians, you and I.
It is our responsibility to remember those who have gone before and to keep their vital thoughts and ideals alive for future generations.
It is our duty to be good stewards of our earth, to use modern technologies as well as the old stories to learn as much as we can about its past, so that we can guarantee its survival into the centuries ahead.
It is imperative, imperative, that we learn to respect others, have an open dialogue, foster agreements, share wisdom and work together for a peaceful world. The alternative is death for us all.
We must call out imposters, charlatans, war mongers, dictators, and oppressors of all stripes, parties and persuasions. Call them out and expose them for what they are. Replace them with men and women of character, purpose and intellect who will not see the world only as they would like it to be, but as it is, and work to make it better.
I realize more and more, with every year that goes by, that one day I will not be here. You will not be here. We will be, like generation after generation before us, a part of history. Do we simply turn a blind eye, telling ourselves that nothing we do today, in this time, will mean anything? Do we ignore obvious atrocities and lies and scams and swindles? Do we really settle for the lesser of two, three or four evils, simply because we feel it is too hard to come up with a viable alternative?
We are the custodians of our past, our present and the future of generations to come.
We have a responsibility to teach, to educate, to train, and to model.
We have an obligation to practice and propagate the kinds of behaviors that will guarantee survival and success.
We must prevail against demagoguery, ignorance, entitlement, anger and fear.