We adults should make it our responsibility to stop being so focused on our selfish gratification and start to consider whether we will be leaving our children with a bright future or a dark hereafter, writes Lance Fredericks.
POETRY, imagery and creative use of language caused me a few headaches growing up.
There were some things I heard growing up that caused me quite extreme torment, I even had deep frown lines before I reached the age of nine.
The song ‘In the Year 2525’, performed by Zager and Evans and released in 1969, painted a foreboding picture of the future. “In the year 2525, if man is still alive, if woman can survive, they may find …”
And then the song tells of the gradual redundancy of basic things that make us human, because in the future these things will no longer be needed. For example, in the year 3535 one’s thoughts will be controlled by a pill you take in the morning.
Then in the year 4545 your teeth and eyes will no longer be needed because there will be nothing to chew and people will not be looking at each other – a kind of disconnectedness.
The year 5555 would see our limbs redundant because we’d be relying so heavily on machines we would not need arms or legs. Come 6565 marriage will no longer be an option because procreation will happen via ‘a long glass tube’ – do you notice the predicted damaging effects of too much leisure time and the resultant loss of human virility?
On and on goes the song, saying that by either 7510 or 8510, God will either have brought on judgement day or just wiped out the human race and started again. Oh, and if that didn’t occur, Zager and Evans lament the fact that in the year 9595 man would probably be extinct anyway because, and I quote, “He’s taken everything this old earth can give, and he ain’t put back nothing”.
So why would this traumatise me you may be wondering? Well, simply because at around the age of five I had no concept of the march of centuries and millennia. To me a person 30 years old was old, and a 60-year-old was – as a friend of mine once said – older than bacteria!
When I listened to the song, what I heard was that by the time I was 25 things would start falling apart. At age 35 I would have to take a pill to tell me what to think, when I got to 45 I would lose my teeth and eyes, at 55 my limbs would drop off and at 65 I would not be able to get married and have children – which was quite a relief because without an opinion, teeth, eyes and limbs I don’t know how I’d waddle down the aisle anyway.
I spent my time between the ages of five and nine constantly worried about my future. And here the adults all around me seemed so blissfully unaware of my dark future. It was okay for them … they seemed to have gotten to 25, 35, 45 and 55 without anything dropping off – but what about me?
I was always wondering, would my eyes be surgically removed, would they dissolve in their sockets or simply drop out of my head? The same with my teeth and limbs … No wonder I grew up so pessimistic and cynical.
Now, let’s put my childish silliness aside for a moment, but with the uncertain future fully locked in our crosshairs, let us consider what our children have to look forward to. I mean, sure we, the adults, are going on day to day and we – more or less – have an idea of what we can do if things get tough. But are the youngsters OK?
I actually know people who have children – still babies under 10 years old – who are scared, terrified of what the future holds. In my humble, biased or even misguided opinion, I think that we as adults – not only parents, adults in general – should make it our responsibility to stop being so focused on our selfish gratification and start to consider whether we will be leaving our children with a bright future or a dark hereafter.
Two Native American proverbs always come to my mind when I look at children skipping alongside or interacting with their parents or grandparents around our city.
A Cherokee saying goes: “When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.”
And the other is: “Treat the Earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”