In this video from Brazil, we see what happens when parents are asked “What do you think of the world of tomorrow” and then are immediately shown videos of their own children talking about what they want to be when they grow up. The difference between the cynicism of adulthood and the hopeful innocence of childhood is beautiful and heartbreaking…even if only because it reminds us of the tremendous responsibility we bear.
I remember the 1980s in the Ocala National Forest a bit differently than my parents do. When I was a kid, I remember sitting outside eating dinner on a blanket with my parents, watching the fireflies gather in summer, and sleeping around a space heater in the winter. I remember running out and laughing whenever flights of low-flying F-14 and F-18 fighter jets would whip the tree-tops, dropping whatever I was doing when I heard the sound of approaching engines, just to see if I could read the fuselage numbers as they streaked overhead. They seemed almost close enough to touch. I learned that the low moan of a B-52 preceded the giddy “THUMP!” that would scare the cats and rattle the plates in our kitchen.
What I didn’t know was that we ate dinner outside, among the fireflies, because it was dark in the house — no money for the electric bill. I didn’t know that we slept around the space heater in the living room because we couldn’t afford to run more than one. And, really…nobody trusted the trailer’s electrical outlets. I didn’t know that across the world, nuclear powers were playing a game of brinkmanship, that empires were falling and people were dying. I never asked why those jets streaked over on the way to the Pine Castle Bombing Range…I never imagined that the “THUMP!” that shook our trailer and scared our cats was the last sound that so many would hear.
There’s a phenomena unique to beings that can remember not knowing what they know now. It’s part dominionism, part terminal generation fatalism, part defeatism in the face of a mounting awareness of horror, tragedy and disappointment. But those things are only as real as we make them, only affect us to the extent that we let them. As the kids in this video remind us, the future isn’t just about defeating our own defeatism…it’s not about us at all. It’s about them. Always has been, always will be.