I am not a parent.
I am, though, old enough to be one. A grandparent, even.
So, for a moment, I’d like to claim all the children of America as my own, and offer this message to them:
Kids, I’m so sorry. You certainly do not deserve this country you’re inheriting. Unfortunately, it’s what I’m passing on to you.
I’m passing on to you an environment that is only just beginning to get payback for all the abuse that’s been carelessly, shamelessly inflicted upon it by its human inhabitants. Payback that will continue, and get steadily more merciless and widespread. Because your planet is melting.
I’m passing on to you an economy made of straw, just waiting for some Big, Bad Wolf to blow it completely to smithereens. An economy with an ever widening chasm between the outrageously wealthy and everyone else, with greed and resentment both growing unabatedly.
I’m passing on to you a hopelessly dysfunctional government that cannot accomplish anything significant due to its exasperating, everlasting compulsion to sabotage itself, and struggles to produce even one single person worthy of being elected to lead it. Those who deem themselves worthy try to prove it, not through substance and character, but through rhetoric and demagoguery.
And, worst of all, I’m passing on to you a society in which manners, courtesy, civility, respect, compassion and unselfishness are all endangered species.
A society that cares more about its own entertainment than anything else; that can barely afford to look up from its smartphone for so much as a second; that can’t wait for the premiere of the next reality show, which will surely appeal to an even baser instinct than the last one.
A society that believes most everything it hears, with little time or use for such trivialities as facts and truth, which are treated even by the “news media” as amorphous, malleable objects, to be molded and shaped to fit personal agendas.
A society that unapologetically shovels more food into its collective belly, even as it’s surrounded by hungry, even starving people.
That increasingly views anyone of a race other than Caucasian as worthless, irresponsible, inferior, even evil.
That bombs abortion clinics and murders gays and transgendered people, all “in the name of God.”
I cannot tell you how deeply sorry I am, children. For all of it.
Obviously, I had no regard whatsoever for your well-being, or your future.
And I absolutely could not be more ashamed.
I don’t expect forgiveness; these atrocities I’ve committed against you are difficult, if not impossible, to forgive.
All I can do at this point is commit the remaining days of my life, however many there may be, to doing whatever I can to right this terrible, terrible wrong.
See, I long ago talked myself into believing my own individual actions would make no difference. The problems were just too overwhelmingly large and complex, and too many other people would continue to do nothing. I convinced myself I was powerless.
And maybe, I am. Maybe, my actions won’t make any difference. The problems haven’t gotten any smaller, or simpler. And still, there will be plenty of people who choose to do nothing, perhaps because they feel, like I have, that there is nothing they can do.
But, I really just need to quit using that as an excuse. There’s no time for that, anymore, and besides, it’s a lousy example to be setting.
You deserve better.
Good luck, kids. Good luck.