When I ask around, I find that it is a question that nobody has an answer to. Yet, it is a very simple answer: for everyone, it is today’s date, to this must be added the difference between our age and that of our children. Once the computation is over, four attitudes emerge: there are people – and they are many of them – for whom the question has little interest; others – and they are many – who wonder if they will still be alive by then. There are also those – a few of them – who think about what will become of their children. And those, still fewer, who wonder in what kind of world their children will be living.
In the distant past and in most societies in history, humans, for the most part, thought only about their immediate survival. And the issue of the future was relevant only for those who had the means to concern themselves with the long-term future of a family or a lineage; they were thinking of themselves first to ensure the permanence of their names, by keeping out the girls and the second-born child, in order to provide the first-born child with the means of preserving the integrity of the estate. Since the 13th century in Flanders, then in Italy, then in Great Britain, France and elsewhere, this obsession with the permanence of one’s name has reached the new ruling class, the bourgeoisie.
Today, almost every family on earth is doing everything to ensure the best possible future for their children, for all their children; and they go mad when they find that they are less likely to succeed than others in doing so.
A small minority, among the wealthiest, for the most part, do not care about their children, even if they pretend the contrary. Thus, they prefer to spend most of their time on something other than their education, thinking that a little, or a lot of pocket money, or inheritance, will be enough to take care and responsibility for their destiny. In fact, this is not the case, and a recent American study found that 70% of wealthy families have seen their wealth decline significantly by the second generation and their fortunes will be lost by the third because the children were not prepared to take charge of their own lives, « becoming yourself. »
Even fewer people raise another question, even more important: What will become of the planet in that year? And fewer still come to the main conclusion: Am I responsible for the world in which my children will live when they are my age?
This question should, however, be an obsession for everyone. And first for political leaders who are, metaphorically speaking, the parents of their fellow citizens’ children; there is only one thing that they should think about: How will their actions make a difference in the world in which future generations will live?
And since politics is only playing a smaller and smaller part in the fate of peoples, and even more so in that of humanity, it is up to each of us to take this issue up very seriously and make it the principal guide to our actions.
It would then relativise many battles. We would move forward with many priorities other than those that have just recently occupied the trestles and the media. We would do everything possible to avoid being cursed by those who would have to suffer from our incompetence, selfishness, and hubris.
We would realize that the only question that really matters is what it takes to achieve what is best for our lives while allowing the next generations to live better – and then some.