Dear You Tomorrow,
You who is not you. Not yet. You are barely even the idea of you right now. You are living in a world that is not like mine. How do I know? Because my world is not like it was back when I was younger I. And much different back before I was anything.
And I am sorry.
This letter is an admission of guilt as much as anything. Because I didn’t do everything I could. Why?
Because I am part of humanity today, and share its faults. Because, at first, I didn’t know. I didn’t know it was a problem. My knowledge wasn’t developed yet, much like our science wasn’t developed yet. And so I did nothing.
And then I learned. Just like we learned. Mind you, I was a young I, not even an I, back when we first learned, so my learning took a while to catch up. But once I learned, it didn’t seem that bad. Mind you, it seemed bad, just as many who knew early on knew it was bad. But, in context of all the other bads in the world, it was a small bad, maybe a medium bad. And so I did nothing. I thought something, I felt something, but I did nothing.
Then, as more people realized it might be a big bad, I realized it might be a big bad. And so I did something. I changed my major. I changed my habits. I changed what I said to others. I started working with other people who realized. I scaled up, spoke out, made it my life. Many somethings.
This is a letter about you, not a letter about I, so the point is not to say what all of those somethings were, what they are today, what I know I will do just minutes after I send this to you, and for as long as it takes to win. If my actions were enough, you will hear about them anyway. Even if you don’t see “I” among the names who did them. If they were not enough, then perhaps it does not matter what they were. Perhaps it would be best if you didn’t see “I” stamped on them – too embarrassing.
And this too is a fault of what we did. We thought too often we could solve it by ourselves. Sometimes, that we could solve it at the expense of each other. We failed to fight it as a community. I failed too often to merge my I with we. Yet this was a triumph, too. In seeking actions that I could take, any of us I, we figured out early on that there was no solution. That there were as many solutions as there were we.
What we failed to do, at least early on, was to see how important it was to put those solutions together. To combine into A way forward, however multivariate and messy that way might be. Because it was a messy problem, and we spent too much time seeing it as just one thing or another. As whatever we already had our eye on. Environment. Development. Equality. Morality. Really, it was everything.
I failed, too, because while I made it my life, I didn’t make it my whole life. I kept on living. We all kept on living. Had fun. Took breaks. Lived out our lives. Yes, this was also good, and something we didn’t do enough early on. We both failed to remember that we are people and can’t work on forever, and failed to not be able to work on forever, because that was needed. This is not how humanity should live. I hope you do not live this way – forever working. But I wonder if there are moments when the situation demands it. I wonder if this was one moment.
We failed, though I don’t think I failed, because we put greed over each other. And, arguably, because we also put compassion for each other over success. We had too many of us who knew full well the problem and its severity, and chose to pursue their own self interest and power instead. Exclusively instead. We failed because we recognized this element within ourselves, yet showed compassion for it. Fought it, but did not dedicate ourselves to squashing it out of existence. We sought to keep within our society those elements that essentially tried to destroy most of it. I cannot argue with this, because I feel this urge deeply. It is hard to NOT empathize with those who feel this greed, even if I don’t feel their lust myself. I learned early on to hide this, but I feel it always, especially when I am deep in my fight against them. I hope this compassion is serving you well. I hope we made the right choice. But I am not sure.
For even as we had compassion for those who were (slightly) more tempted, by circumstance or chemistry, than the rest of us, we failed to have compassion for the life all around us. Failed to empathize with all who shared our climate, though they were really not different from us. No more different than you and I, really. I feel them the same way I feel the greedy. I do not know if this is good or bad. Perhaps my uncertainty is my greatest failure.
Last, we maybe failed to make this our only fight. Understandable given the many other sorrows around us. But still we chose to fight many fights. I chose to fight many fights. I still think this was right, because all fights are really one fight. The fight for your future. The best possible version of it. But this forced us to make choices, to divert resources. And for you, maybe this means your future is bleaker than it could have been.
Maybe, though, it is brighter.
Maybe our eventual realization that all fights are one fight, all people are our people, all life is our life, all lives deserve to be lived, was right. Not perfect, for we are still humanity. But enough. Better than enough.
You. You are living in a world that is not like mine. How do I know? Because I, we, are getting better every day.