The ghost of Christmas Future visited us this Christmas Eve. It came on the faces of all the little children who gathered at my son’s house. My grandsons, their neighbors and friends, their cousins. The oldest was 10 years and the youngest 2 months. I felt very old.
I thought about the world they will live in. The only thing I know for sure is that it will be different from the one of today, and unrecognizable to the one I grew up in. The events which shaped our understanding of the world will be just a footnote in their history books. But I want them to know.
I want them to know about the Cold War, the Arms Race, and how the threat of annihilation was the backdrop of our daily lives.
How we were so terrified of the Russians and Communism which we learned would deprive us of our freedoms, and how we learned to cherish the American way.
How my father and I stood on the rooftop in awe as Sputnik flew overhead but felt dread that the Russians may beat us into space. And oh, the pride and relief when Americans walked on the moon.
How we held our collective breath for 3 days in October of 1962 when the Russian missiles appeared on our doorstep and nuclear war was a probability. But we all believed very strongly in “better dead than red”. We didn’t want to live without the protections of our Bill of Rights.
How we became disenchanted with our government during Watergate and how it lost its luster. How we watched with dismay as statesmanship in Congress was replaced with one upmanship. How compromise, the founding principle of our constitution, became a dirty word.
But we wanted to mend our government, not replace it. I fear that isn’t so for the young voters of today. How else can we explain their willingness to consider a presidential candidate who is explicit in words and actions in his disregard for our constitution?
So, I wonder about the world of Christmas Future. Will democracy still be our way of life? If so, will children relearn to cherish it and protect it?
Or will the voters of today see democracy as a failed system and gladly trade their rights for a system that isn’t as vulnerable to paralysis. Will they end the American experiment, and trade it in for the very way of life that our founding fathers were rejecting?
Their choice will impact the world that these sweet little faces round the Christmas tree will inherit. I hope they can remain innocent and free for a long time.
Opinion and Commentary Appeal
We’ve been fortunate recently to have received several excellent and highly relevant opinion articles from Don Menzel, Joan Weaving, and Andy Mohr. And we’d like to see more. As OLLI members, you are our contributors as well as our audience. We want to hear your thoughts. We want to share them with your fellow OLLI members.
Don, Joan, and Andy have found aspects of our culture where we seem to have lost our way as citizens of a great experiment in democracy. When you look around— at politics, at the press, at issues of global importance, at social media— what comes up for you as a sign that we’re going in the wrong direction? And what do we need to do to return to the right path: the American Way we once proudly, and perhaps naively, took for granted.
We welcome your thoughts, brief or lengthy, shared with us at
Joan Weaving embarked on a successful business career as the first woman Product Manager for Nabisco, Inc., and a Corporate Vice President for Equitable, before starting her own consulting company in 1988, specializing in leadership development and executive coaching for major corporations. Joan has been an active OLLI participant and has played a key role in the conceptualization and execution of the annual Board of Advisor’s retreat. Joan leads our Exploring Leadership Opportunities class in the fall term.