Next time you go flipping through your history textbook, take note of a few things – notice the patterns, the way each chapter or time period is set up. Often the books are broken down by decades, usually including things like wars, elections, other major events, and the culture of the period. As you read through the sections, think of the things that are happening today and apply them to the book. Imagine the things that future generations will read about our time.
Presidential candidates having arguments over Twitter – maybe they’ll include screenshots for our kids to read. There are race wars and widespread drug problems, as if the 1960s have come back to haunt us. There are too many mass shootings to list them all. Will they wonder how we lived under a constant threat of danger, or will it seem like nothing compared with the dangers they face in the future?
Will future textbook photos show our generation riding on hoverboards staring at phones, typing out our feelings for the world to see? Taking pictures of ourselves and the fun things we were doing so all of our friends would be jealous? Will our story be that we all wanted to be rich, or at least own expensive things, and we all went deeper and deeper into debt without a care in the world? That we all got offended a little too easily, and it slowly tore us apart, breaking us into factions, a kind of neo-segregation? That we floated through time as our world burned around us?
It doesn’t have to be that way. That’s the good thing about being part of a generation that’s coming of age – it’s our choice, our decision. No matter how we’ve grown up, we are gaining more and more power. We can choose whether to use that power for good or evil. We can choose what the history books oftomorrow say about us. Will we be proud of the things our children read in the future?
Will our children have a future at all?
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.