Open Letter to the Younger Generation.
It must be hard growing up in today's world. So many conflicting ideas, so much confusing information, so little help and guidance. As a young person you are facing an uncertain future, perhaps more so than any previous generation. Time and resources are quickly running out and those responsible for squandering it all are leaving you to pick up the pieces and make the best of what is left.
For that, and on behalf of all of us who have failed you, we are sorry.
We are sorry that we have left this planet in such a parlous state; that we have taken advantage of it's many rich resources. We are sorry that we have taken and taken and taken, and given precious little back. We are sorry that we have ruthlessly exploited those resources for our own selfish ends with no regard for the other people or creatures or plants that share our home.
We are sorry that those of us who have benefitted from a free and rich education are now making you pay for a much more limited experience. We are sorry that we have instigated a regime of testing that does not serve any educational purpose but merely creates work for bureaucrats. We are sorry that the curriculum is now so narrow that you will not get the opportunities to discover the joys of history, art, music or drama. We are sorry that we have not provided you with welcoming and inspirational school buildings but, instead, have given you versions of corporate headquarters so that we might make you in our own image. We are sorry that we have sold off your playing fields and introduced ridiculous health and safety policies that do not allow you to learn through play or enjoy sport or socialise. And we are sorry that we now complain that you are a lazy generation.
We are sorry that we have tempted you with seductive images of a future that you will not have. That we have raised you to have materialistic desires so that you can consume more so that we can earn more. We are sorry that we have designed gadgets with in-built obsolescence so that you have to update and upgrade constantly. We are sorry that we have created a culture where status is conferred on those who have the newest, the fastest, the sleekest or the most expensive. We are sorry that your values are now so skewed. We are sorry that we have not taught you to value one another for who you are and who you can be.
We are sorry that we have created an economy where the richest will continue to get rich at the expense of the poor. That we have built a tax system that will benefit those that have money and cripple those that do not. We are sorry that your future is now mortgaged to provide huge bonuses for the very people who gambled away your future. We are sorry that we have run up so much debt that you will be paying it back for the rest of your lives.
We are sorry that we are selling off your woodland and countryside and limiting your access to open space. We are sorry that we are developing urban housing with no gardens, no space and no privacy. We are sorry that whilst we are doing this, the very richest of us spread out in our country estates and second or third holiday homes.
We are sorry that we have created a culture whereby the only way you c an feel that you are enjoying yourselves, or validated, or anything much at all is by drinking yourselves into a stupor. We are sorry that we continue to sell the alcohol to you at the cheapest possible price to ensure that you drink yourselves to an early death. And we are sorry that we then shake our heads disapprovingly at your squalid binge-drinking behaviour and console ourselves that we were never so bad.
We are sorry for the relentless sexualisation of all aspects of your life. We are sorry too that this continuous representation of the ideal female form and endless male virility has left you feeling confused, scared and inadequate. These airbrushed images and unrealistic expectations are contrived to distract you from what really matters and keep you obsessed with the carnal and the erotic. In this way we can speed your journey through childhood and take away your innocence all the quicker. We are sorry that this has left you unable to maintain relationships, unable to set aside your own desires, and at the mercy of other people's. We know that there is no such thing as 'the perfect relationship' but we struggle so much with this ourselves that we are damned if we are going to make it any better for you.
We are sorry that some of you have been enslaved by us, helping us to manufacture our fortunes, made via a throwaway culture, in sweatshops across the world. We are sorry that you have been forced to fight for causes that you neither comprehend nor believe in. No child should ever be required to fire a gun or wield a machete. We are sorry that you have not always been able to trust those adults in whose care you are placed. We are so sorry that some of these people have stolen your innocence. We are sorry too that there are some adults who have used you for their own sexual gratification.
We are sorry that religious belief (so often cited as a guiding light) has been turned instead into a political issue; and that politicians have lacked the moral fibre to work for a better, fairer future for you. We are sorry that your only role-models now are either criminals or so-called celebrities. Fame is a fickle thing; do not seek it. If you have a true talent, and you all have at least one, then use it to the best of your ability and for the good of others. In this way you will be recognised for who you are and what you can do, not only for how much money we can make out of exploiting you.
We are sorry that we have obscured the truth from you. The world is a place of infinite wonder. There is beauty and joy in abundance. As future guardians of the world you should see it in those terms. Each and every one of you has the capacity to change this world for the better. It will not take something extraordinary to do it; just each person making their own contribution and looking after their own piece of the earth. Treat one another with respect, listen to each other and work together and you will be able to counteract the damage we have wrought. If we can at least guide you in this way, you have a chance of avoiding the mistakes that we have made. We hope that you will not ever have to write such a letter as this.