Suddenly All my Ancestors are behind me. "Be Still" they say.
"Watch and Listen. You are the Result of the Love of Thousands."
The constancy of knowing there will be seven generations to plan for might also be called a Golden Rule to live by, used by Native people since the stories began. To deliberate the important matters and make decisions that will protect or ensure the seven generations in the future will not be negatively impacted by decisions made in the present. The long look, the plan that gave hope to those yet to be born that their ancestors knew they were coming and planned for them.
The world has not for the most part been operating with the future in mind since the frenzy of extraction of coal, oil and gas, which actually are the accumulation of past energy, the product of photosynthesis, of condensed geological remains of once-living organisms millions of years in the past, of the concentrated essence of life on earth once lived. We have been burning up what Lewis Mumford called humanity's bequest.
As early as 1847 George Perkins Marsh was speaking about what would later be termed the greenhouse effect. In 1864, during our own Civil War he wrote the Earth is fast becoming an unfit home for its noblest inhabitant and could result in the extinction of the species. Resource management should take the needs of future generations into account, and he warned, "the world cannot afford to wait till the slow and sure progress of exact science has taught it a better economy."
Scientists a century later in 1957 explained using these fuels had become a large-scale geophysical experiment where we have returned to the atmosphere and oceans the concentrated organic carbon stored in sedimentary rocks over hundreds of millions of years. We did this. What is happening now is the result of what has been burned in that last 200 years. Historian Andreas Malm asked, "When the awesome power of coal and petroleum was unlocked, who could have predicted that by burning up the past, we would imperil everything to come?" If we wait some time longer and then demolish the fossil economy in one giant blow, it would still cast a shadow far into the future: emissions slashed to zero, the sea might continue to rise for many hundreds of years.”
Clearly decisions have not been made with the seven generations in mind, in fact if we could number the generations back, all seven generations before us have been involved somehow in the world we all have inherited. It comes now to us, each of us to begin to do the things we can to save what we can of the world those future ones will be born upon.
Our youngest generation now old enough to be speaking out, are. “Young people are starting to understand your betrayal,” Greta Thunberg said. “The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: we will never forgive you.”
They are only speaking now, but as they and those who follow them begin to realize what is happening on this earth, our only home, they will be YELLING at us. They have every reason to despair as well and to give up. But the resolute abundance of collective good lies within them and if you have ever had a new phone and didn't know how to do something on it, these are the ones you turn to, they know instinctively how to fix and figure out how to do the whats needing done. We need them to clean up our mess and we need to encourage them with that effort. To pick it up and do it for ... the seven generations yet to come.
We must ask ourselves: Are we violating the rights of those yet unborn? What are our ethical responsibilities? Are we seeking the best for the seventh generation? What kind of ancestor do you want to be?
Will we be the bad ancestors? Or can we ourselves begin doing what we can to change our role in the history of the planet? I think we can suddenly remember that we are the result of the love of thousands and we will respond.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim