I read a book review, by Jeffrey Frank, in last week's New Yorker, of Christian Jungerson's book "Body Count." Frank pulls out this quote from a character named Gunnar:
“I very much hope that the world will become a better place. And if it does, our grandchildren may look at us the way young people today regard the generation who collaborated with the Nazis. They’ll say, ‘I do not understand you.’ We will explain that life simply was the way it was. ‘Famines came and went and no one did anything about it. People died of hunger to provide us with cheaper coffee.’ We’ll have to admit that we knew but chose to do nothing about it.”
This captures succinctly something I think about all the time too. It just seems normal to us to drive big smelly cars as fast as we can (even if we are driving small economy cars law-abidingly, it will still probably seem excessive to future generations, if any), and use products that you throw away after one or two uses, and use bleach and detergents, and eat meats (these are all things I do -- don't think I'm passing judgement on you).
But our kids's kids are going to wonder how could we have been so selfish and shortsighted. We were just being regular folks, trying to get through the day after day after day. I'm sure they'll have routines of life that later generations will scorn them for. Okay, maybe I'm not sure. I'd wager, though (since I won't be here to pay off).
Laurie David will look good to posterity. Oh, and my dad. He's got a big I TOLD YOU SO for everyone and it's not even the end of the world yet. But soon enough. Soon enough, it will come. Naw, not the end. But some things'll be different, seems pretty certain. And we'll have to admit that we knew, and chose to do very little about it.
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