The oil spill keeps coming up in odd conversations today. A coworker asked me if I'd written to you about it, after she'd learnt the extent of the damage. A customer, before driving off with his latte, asked if we'd heard about the 10-mile underwater plumes. My Aunt, visiting from California, brought up the ominous feelings she's been having about how much worse it could get. It's been on my mind all day, so perhaps it's understandable that when I saw the headline for Nicholas Kristof's op-ed, "Moonshine or the kids?" I thought it was a reference to the oil spill. The op-ed is actually about misplaced priorities amongst the poorest families in Africa who struggle with substance abuse problems. But it might as well be about the boomer generation.
It's not that I think they're bad parents. I think, for the most part, parents want to do the right thing for their children, to act in their best interest. But, be it cheap oil or lower taxes or wracking up credit card debit instead of saving for college, the generation that has steered our nation to its current state has been quick to trade long-term interest for immediate gratification. To keep drinking the moonshine.
The conversation with my coworker quickly devolved into a litany of things that are wrong with the world, things that scare us, if we think about them too much. The world is so messed up, I told her, and I just don't know how to fix it. Getting angry at those that brought us here, the generation that came before, won't help me fix it. I know this. I think you're a long-term thinker, Mr. President, and what many would call inaction is in fact a strategy that considers the next five generations and not just the next five years. I hope that this perception is an accurate one; if we do not change the way we think, start seeing our children's legacy as more valuable than our next fix, they will never forgive us.