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Caring for Future Generations

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On the thread that launched this SEEING THINGS WHOLE project, a reader posted a link to a teaching by the Vietnamese Buddhist, Thich Nhat Hanh (at  <a href="click here which contains this passage:  

<blockquote> “So he asked the question: "World Honoured One, today it is not difficult for me to hear this wonderful sutra, have confidence in it, understand it, accept it, and put it into practice. But in the future, in 500 years, if there is someone who can hear this sutra, have confidence in it, understand it and put it into practice, then certainly the existence of someone like that will be great and rare."(14) He really cares for the future generations. Subhuti asked: "In times to come, will there be people who, when they hear these teachings, have real faith and confidence in them?"</blockquote>

My response upon reading this was:  Imagine that!  He really cares about future generations!  I wonder what a politics that stressed such caring would look like.  

We really talk so little about future generations in American in our time.  When we talk about what we’re about as a nation, when we deliberate about policy decisions, when our presidential candidates clamor for our votes-- almost never do we hear any central concern about what kind of society or world we're trying to create for the generations to come.  

We do not hold the future generations close to our hearts.

Ours is a society that not only is short on reverence for ancestors, but also seems indifferent to the legacy we leave for our descendants.

This seems a matter of not making connections, of not feeling ourselves to be part of some larger Whole moving through time.

A few questions:  First, am I right that decades ago, the discourse in the American political system expressed greater concern for what kind of country was being built for future generations?  And second, if there has been a change, what accounts for that shift away from such concern, away from a sense of connection with our descendants?   And finally, how does any of that connect with the issue of Wholeness, and what has happened with respect to the wholeness of today's people and today's institutions?
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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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