Modern museums are interactive, full of amazing knowledge and mind-expanding challenges. When I visited the Fire and Ice exhibit at the Wildling Museum in the spring, I was unexpectedly told to write a letter to a stranger who would live 100 years from now. Accompanied by the exhibits were blank index cards, pens, and pencil clutches.
This challenge surprised me. My left brain protested instantly. How can I organize my thoughts without using straight lines?” From there I quickly panicked. scared? Are you proud or are you apologetic?
Wildling’s mission is to inspire visitors to enjoy, value and protect wildlife and natural areas through art. With this in mind, I first considered the natural heritage that today’s generation may offer future inhabitants of the planet.
We are on a better trajectory recently with initiatives such as reserving 30% of our land for nature by 2030. But no matter what we humans do, the earth will surely be there.
Humans have a shorter timescale than Earth. American history is a speck of dust on its timeline. French diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville, in his 1835 Democracy in America, states that he was surprised that citizens were willing to argue together to actively settle problems.
At this critical inflection point of the 2020s, we must regain the power to work together across sectors to achieve equality and justice for ourselves and our future.
Many years ago, Parker Palmer’s Healing the Heart of Democracy inspired me to organize a group in my church to address sensitive issues with attention. Palmer used her five “habits of the mind” to identify each other.
*Please understand that we are all in this together
* Recognizing the value of “otherness”
* Keep tension in a lively way
* Feel your personal voice and agency
* Learn to create a community
Most recently, I attended a webinar hosted by the HAAS Center for Public Service at Stanford University. Featured speaker, Harvard University’s Marshall His Professor Gantz, emphasized the creative and adaptive work that democracy requires. “Democracy is a verb. We are constantly creating or decreating it,” he declared.
Like Palmer, Ganz emphasized a commitment to the core values of a democratic society. This allows us to traverse narrower issues and maintain a vision that emphasizes respect and equality. Rich diversity at all levels is a strength of democracy, although it is not easy to deal with.
Ganz quoted Rabbi Hillel of the 1st century B.C.E., who developed an argument for collective action toward a common goal.
1. If I’m not for myself, who is for me?
2. What am I if I am all alone?
3. If not now, when?
With these thoughts in mind, my notecard to 2122:
Dear Future One,
I think it’s hot. sorry.
We left behind some great tools like computers, cell phones, and the Internet. They were all invented in my short time. Our soft tools will also appear. We are improving our ability to recognize people’s gifts. Racial, gender, and all differences are moving from being tolerated to being celebrated. we are not there yet.
Our problem was overcoming inertia. Those of us who embraced the power that comes with privilege enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle. We sacrificed natural space for plastic and usability, but there are too many to categorize. We traveled on fossil fuel waterways and smoke.
Yet we are learning. We learn to act because we know that understanding comes from action. We hope out of necessity because hope is more powerful than fear.
i want to know about you Are you short of things? are you happy Are you and your co-Earthlings enjoying freedom and justice? Are you voting?
Please write a reply! I have no future pen partner.
— Karen Telleen-Lawton serves seniors and pre-seniors as a principal for Decisive Path Fee-Only Financial Advisory in Santa Barbara. For questions about her financial planning, you can contact her at: [email protected]Click here to read previous columns. Opinions expressed are her own.