For the longest time I only had to think about myself. For no particular reason for the first thirty six years of my life I only had to take care of me. I managed to stay out of debt, purchase a couple of cars, purchase a condo and stay gainfully employed. Like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates recently discussed I really do agree that I got a great ticket here on this Earth by being born in the United States during this time of prosperity. I’ve been blessed in so many ways that I can’t even begin to describe them.
But as my life has changed with marriage and having a child I’ve been really thinking about the future of my life, my child’s life and the future of the human race. Over the past year, my thoughts have taken on the questions of time and perspective. I think I’ve been on these thoughts due to this year’s United States Presidential election cycle. I’ve seen many examples of short term thinking, greed and hubris.
The other day I thought to myself “does the average person think past their life and into the twilight years of their children?” If all things go well for my young baby daughter she could realistically expect to live until 2107. That seems so far away in my mind, but draped against the backdrop of human history it is really only one breath among millions. And then what really boggles the mind is to think that the human race could possibly make it to the ripe old age of one million years old.
I concede that it is almost impossible to ponder the effects of our collective contributions to the human race and if we would even be remembered in a million years. But then while watching the HBO series John Adams a thought by Thomas Jefferson really said something to me.
Thomas Jefferson said that “I am increasingly persuaded that the Earth belongs exclusively to the living and that one generation has no more right to bind another to its laws and judgements.”
To me Jefferson is saying that life changes constantly and each generation must live life to their best abilities without placing burdens on the next generations to come.
I fear that we are not listening to Jefferson. For you see in the United States our “fathers”, the political representatives we have been electing over the past thirty years and sending to Washington to represent our common interests, have been committing a great sin.
In my eyes, it is blindly obvious that accumulating great debt is indeed a sin or at the least plainly stupid.
Whatever the reasons have been in accumulating this debt is not the focus of this post. The reality is that this debt will certainly bind future generations to our judgements, which is exactly what Jefferson warned against.
As I sit and write about this Sin of our Fathers I try to imagine the future. I wonder if our children will live a less vibrant life than we have lived.
I look at my daughter and see a shackle being placed on her daily growing leg. She has so much ahead of her, yet she and her peers may never be able to achieve their collective potential due the bad judgements of their elders.
I ask “Are we responsible for ‘The Sins of our Fathers?'”
I answer the question with this: we are not responsible for the sins of our fathers. However, today’s generation of Americans and the generations to come will certainly pay the price for those sins.
Sadly I think that my generation and my daughter’s generation will pay an extremely difficult price in the not so distant future. I see a time where we live in an environment not so different than that of my Grandmother’s where poverty and despair prevailed during the Great Depression.
I hope I am wrong, but I fear I will not be.