Sometimes I feel like we’re living in the End Times. When I was a child and a teen in the 1960s and ‘70s, I encountered Jehovah’s Witnesses and Jesus freaks who insisted that the time was nigh. I vaguely figured that, if they were right, human existence would come to an end (via thermonuclear war or the rapture or an asteroid or …. ) probably right around the year 2000.
Now that particular due date has expired. Nonetheless, we are threatened with runaway climate change, diminishing fresh water supplies (and other impending resource crises), and, yes, nuclear war. It’s terrifying. I would never choose to bring a child into such a world as this.
Then again, when I was in my 20s during the Reagan administration back in the 80s, I made a similar calculation regarding the practical implications of fathering a child. I wasn’t at all sure a child born then would grow up into a livable world. Today, as it turns out, many of my favorite people were born during that decade or even later.
I was born in 1958. The Russians had recently obtained the bomb. Fascists ruled all over the planet: Mao, Kruschev, Franco, Batista, Mobuto. Mainstream American culture was oppressively conformist, racist, narrow minded, spiritless. The future would not have looked promising to a guy like me and I would NEVER have chosen to bring a child into the world back in ’58.
Lately I’m observing that amazing stuff continues to happen, some of it very good, and that by and large, the young people I meet are far wiser than I and my peers were when we were their age. At the Beloved Festival in OR this past summer, I said to a young man of about 23 that I was so sorry not to be leaving him and his friends a better world, and I only wished I could serve them in some way with the time I have left. He clasped my hands to his heart, and said, “You’re doing it now, brother, just by walking your path.”