Not for a minute can you not hear a politician or a company director say with his hand on his heart that, naturally, he is only working in the interest of future generations, that he has only the environment in mind, that he wants to improve the climate, eliminate waste, reduce the use of fossil fuels, develop sustainable finance. They all say it. And very few do.
And what’s more, hardly any of them talk about future generations themselves, i.e. prosaically about babies, children and students. This suggests that adults who are concerned about climate change are really only interested in protecting their own future living conditions.
In most of the world’s countries, even the most developed ones, with very few exceptions, young people are poorly looked after. Even those of the most advanced societies, such as France, which protect mothers during their childbearing years, still have gaps in the protection of childhood, adolescence and young adults:
Children, from all walks of life, are not protected as they should be from the turpitude of adults; nor are they protected from screens, which should be forbidden to them until the age of six, while they are increasingly used as babysitters; those from poorer backgrounds do not have access to the same education as others, when they should have more means to make up for what the family does not provide; and those whose families are not even in a position to look after them are left in the nothingness of orphanages. It is even worse, in any country, for girls. And especially in those countries, many more than we think, where education is formally or actually forbidden to them.
Nor do middle-class and poorer teenagers receive the means of education available to the richest. They do not have access to the best education, nor do they really have the means to escape, through their studies, the social and gender predestination that has been imposed on humanity for thousands of years, which makes education a simple means of class and caste reproduction; which directs those who are not fortunate enough to have parents capable of helping them, of advising them, of offering them private lessons, towards work or mediocre training.
Young adults are also being left behind. It is scandalous, especially in France, that hundreds of thousands of young adults are forced to work to finance studies that they cannot actually follow properly and that they have to depend on charity to feed themselves. It is scandalous that, especially in France, scholarships are so low and that they are awarded, even for students over 18, according to the parents’ standard of living. A young adult should have decent means to study. Until the age of 25.
To this one can reply that a nation cannot finance everything and that it must make choices. It is these choices that I am criticising: everything is done, in almost all societies, in one way or another, to protect the standard of living of the elderly (with exceptions, of course, even in France, where pensioners continue to have scandalously low incomes).
Our societies will die from this: if we do not put the new generations in a position to discover their talents, to make them blossom, in twenty or thirty years’ time we will not have the engineers, the scientists, the researchers, the entrepreneurs, the innovators, the farmers, the doctors, the journalists, the lawyers, without whom even the generations currently in power will not be able to live a decent retirement, neither financially, nor socially, nor ecologically, nor democratically. It would therefore be in their best interests to make this a priority.
It is therefore urgent to devote a much larger share of GDP to education in the broadest sense, and to use the fabulous progress that the new technologies would allow, if they were used in the interests of the future, and not to numb the anger of the youngest by using recreational drugs.
Painting : Henri Jules Jean Geoffroy, Une école maternelle, 1898