Maureen McGarry
Director, Volunteer Center of the Redwoods
Arcata, California, United States

Always Have Hope

“I worked for change, supported creative ideas and expression, and never forgot about you.”

Dear Family of the Future,

Since I did not have children, this is for all who came after me. I loved and cared for many children and saw them as future guardians of the planet, and of all that is sacred, real, and filled with beauty and potential.

I want to attempt to answer the question, “Why?”

I grew up with the same question: “Why didn’t you, my elders, do something to fix this mess?” I grew up under the “nuclear nightmare.” I hope that is not a part of your lives now the way it was in mine as a young person.

My answer is that greed and power permeated so many of my generation and those that surrounded mine. Sadly, we should have known better (and, frankly, we did). Comfort and material wealth, and the numbing effects of distraction, self-indulgence, and mind-altering substances seduced us. We let fear be our guide way too often.

As a product of the 1960’s, I rebelled against the lifestyle and values of the generation before mine. I questioned everything from the war in Vietnam (and all wars that followed), to the racist practices of our government and culture, including the discriminatory attitudes toward women and equal rights, to the interruption and devastation of the cycles of nature due to overuse and abuse of the earth’s natural resources. I fought against the disease of selfishness, and for respect for nature and the gifts of life.

Our self-important saga has given you an altered planet. I apologize for not figuring out how to do more to protect your inheritance.

I can tell you that I tried to do some things with you in mind. Those things seem so small as I write this.

I recycled, upcycled, reused, repurposed, and advocated for environmental preservation and protection in my adult life. I didn’t eat meat, and tried to burn less fossil fuel by driving and flying less frequently. I worked for change, supported creative ideas and expression, and never forgot about you. I didn’t always have the answers, but your future was always considered in the choices I made.

I believed that all human beings could truly make a difference. I hope you agree and are able to live with truth as your guide. Always have hope and take care of this place for those yet to come.

Maureen McGarry