In “DO NOT OPEN,” I ask residents to write letters to the future. I do so because today, many of their neighbors aren’t willing to listen. Today, too many are in denial about the human impact on global climate change. For many, denial comes easier than visualizing the future impact of rising seas on their community. Our words fall on deaf ears.
So, instead, we must write it all down, keep it in a safe place, and share it later, when others are willing to listen.
Although the letters are intended for people not yet born, the true audience is those breathing in the present.
Sure, the future will be curious.
The future will read our letters and want to know why we couldn’t show restraint when facing insurmountable evidence of our role in creating this global crisis.
The future will be incredulous.
In the 2100’s, our great-grandchildren will read the words we wrote them and want to understand why we didn’t do more when so much—everything– was at stake.
The future will be furious.
A century from now, our communities will read what we penned and want to know how, on our watch, ecosystems collapsed, biodiversity plummeted and so much of humanity suffered.
The future will benefit from insights, but “DO NOT OPEN” isn’t for them. It’s not about them. It’s about us.
I’m less interested in them being able to hear us. And more interested in us being able to see them. By writing to them, we name them. By writing to them, we can’t deny their existence. By writing to them, we create a connection to them.
Being able to connect with our progeny raises the stakes for us now. It lengthens the “care horizon” beyond our lifetime. It provides a path to hope, purpose. It encourages us to do all we can now to protect our planet, its future generations and the animals we coevolved with.