“Not surprisingly, this sense of bleakness and futility has seeped into wider culture. A recent international survey of young people found that 75% believed “the future is frightening”, 56% thought “humanity is doomed” and 39% were “hesitant to have children”.
Climate change is a critical issue and one that will require considerable political will and social resolve to challenge. Hallam and Franzen and similar thinkers insist that only an apocalyptic vision will persuade people to take action. In reality, as the environmental journalist Hannah Ritchie has observed: “Once anger transitions into hopelessness, we struggle to achieve much at all.” Telling people that there is no future is hardly conducive to getting them to act to change it….”
We need the next generation to dream of different, better ways of being. We need them to revolt against the world we have made, to tear down our institutions and make their own.
What skill set will let them do this? Pessimism is almost not likely to help.
As a father of two now adults, I have watched them struggle with these ideas. The problems of the world are so hard to take on when you are struggling aleady with your own becoming.
A few years ago I wrote this for my son;
You were never bold. As a boy you
Beheld the world from distance, as if
The cliff edge was closer. But
Behind those beautiful eyes were
Lands of your own making, where
Wild beasts roamed, unfettered.
Why do the small cruelties outweigh a
Thousand kindnesses? Why do
Softest souls wound deepest?
Would that it were possible to stay
Inside those dreams you had
But only half remember.
But you were always brave. It requires courage
To take a good long look but then still leap.
Sure, the horizon seemed no closer after the
Small steps, but you made them anyway.
And when days are dark from the doubting,
Take shelter my son. It never rains forever.
The life singing in you is not just journey,
Nor located at some distant destination.
It is here. It is now. It’s what happens
When wounds half-heal but bleed not
Blood, but good. It is not in the width of things
But their depth. It’s a rediscovery of love.