Forming a New Dream for a New Age: A Note to Our Grandchildren

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Forming a New Dream for a New Age

D.H. Lawrence wrote, “It is very much easier to shatter prison bars than to open undiscovered doors to life.” But that is exactly what my generation’s grandchildren must do: open the doors we haven’t yet discovered by starting from where they are rather than where we have been.My message to the four of them is simple but hard and it comes wrapped in great hope and deep love:

“You must have a new beginning that approaches problems and questions with curious minds. Don’t be locked into the ‘that is the way we have always done it’ school of thought. The principles we have inherited from our forebears are sound, but you need to view them through fresh eyes and re-form them to meet the challenges and circumstances of your day.

 “Don’t accept the 20th-century model for solving 21st-century problems. Expand your thinking into new realms, not bound by the perceptions of a passing culture nor weighed down by outmoded ideologies, ideas, prejudices and opinions. Have respect for the past and the work we did but move beyond it. Don’t obsess over certainty, because what appears certain today might go the way of the flat earth tomorrow.”

Just as I gave my father’s gold watch­­­ to my daughter to hold in trust until her eldest son (now 15) is ready to care for it, with these words I turn the mantle of collaborative leadership over to my two daughters and their generation to hold in trust until the millennial generation is ready to assume it.

In his eulogy for abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, on June 2, 1879, Fredrick Douglass called on Americans of his day to “leave the world freer, nobler and better than we found it.”

I shall try to do this for my grandchildren, and I challenge them to do the same for their grandchildren. In the meantime, I hope they prepare themselves well and—in the spirit of Rilke— live everything!