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Wed Mar 15, 2017, 06:42 PM

My 2017 Letter to 1967 Me

Dear Bright,

Memorial Day is just a couple of months away. Young men are being drafted and sent to Southeast Asia to die as cannon fodder for a foreign policy you believe is stupid, counterproductive, and cruel. You're going to join a small-town Memorial Day parade, wearing raggy clothes and carrying a big black flag, as your own way of protesting against the spit-and-polish my-country-right-or-wrong jingoism that supports the deaths of those young Americans.

I wish I could tell you that you spark a movement, or even just that you will make people think, that the Adults in Charge look at you and say to themselves "If we are losing the support of our youth, the future and conscience of our nation, we must be doing this wrong."

I can't. They won't.

They will call your parents. Who will tell them politely that the First Amendment is an important thing here in America. You'd never admit it to them, of course. But you know your parents aren't Adults in Charge, they're Real Grownups. They don't really belong in that small town, either. (Don't worry, you'll all get out. Hang in there.)

This, and a good many more things- things you'll see on television, read in the news, hear from others, and experience personally- will convince you that pretty much all adults are Adults in Charge- comfortable hypocrites who will callously let others suffer and die rather than make any changes to Business As Usual. That they can't be trusted. That as age accumulates, so does denial, selfishness and cowardice.

Here's some of the things they'll say that will make you snort with angry contempt:

"You're not seeing the larger, longer view."

"Change takes time."

"Compromise is a good thing."

"Half a loaf is a good start."

"Anger and extremism will defeat your own ends."

Because right now, in the coming decade or so, you will know, from your vantage point secure on the moral high ground, that you are correct, and that the fight for justice, human rights, an earth that will support life, a sustainable economy for everyone- is the fight. No delays or compromises can or should be tolerated. And anyone who says otherwise has sold out. Been co-opted. Become Part of the Problem.

You're not alone, and over the next ten years, this commitment, energy and conviction from you and thousands of other young people will power some amazing and historic accomplishments.

And then the backlash will come. Won't tell you too much about it. You're going to study history, so you'll recognize how it works. That won't make it any less painful and discouraging. It'll be hard to see past the reverse tide, as the same Adults in Charge who ignored you on Memorial Day push back, undo, and mobilize comfortable indifference and self-interest behind the inertia of Business as Usual.

But here's the thing, Young Me: In spite of that rollback, a lot of important changes will not be undone. They won't be the big, complete, dramatic changes you want, the ones you're fighting for. They'll be smaller things. Incremental things. Compromises. They wouldn't have happened without your energy, and even though they weren't enough for you and they paled beside the dazzling possibilities of the great leaps of progress you want- they endured.

And here's the other thing: Even though a lot of the young people around you right now will get absorbed in their own lives and their personal aspirations for success and security, and some will get lost in their own dramas and excesses, some won't.

Some will keep that youthful passion for justice, human rights, an earth that will support life, a sustainable economy for everyone. And hard experiences, self-discipline, and the assumption of responsibility and integrity will temper them into leaders of principle. Not Adults in Charge, but Real Grownups. They'll learn to listen to the fear behind the anger, and reach out effectively to those who disagree with them.

They'll learn the power and value of delaying a grand leap to secure an unspectacular step forward. They'll learn the difficult and important craft of compromise without sacrificing integrity. They'll grasp the powerful secret: The more credit you assign to others for the slow and difficult steps, the surer you make the achievement of the objective.

Try to be one of them, 1967 Me.

Try really hard.

2017 Bright

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Reply My 2017 Letter to 1967 Me (Original post)
TygrBright Mar 2017 OP
tblue37 Mar 2017 #1
volstork Mar 2017 #2
TygrBright Mar 2017 #3

Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Wed Mar 15, 2017, 07:10 PM

1. K&R. Well said. nt

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Response to TygrBright (Original post)

Wed Mar 15, 2017, 07:40 PM

2. Gorgeous!

Did your 1967 self write to your 2017 self?

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Response to volstork (Reply #2)

Wed Mar 15, 2017, 07:46 PM

3. Thank you... and... not YET. (But thanks for the inspiration!) n/t

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