Contemporary American culture is notoriously short-sighted. We can’t see beyond the tips of our noses, or into the next hour, let alone the next century. Gratification must be instant–because after all, we deserve it.
Yet there is a growing need to evaluate our lifestyle choices for the consequences forced onto unborn generations. Native Americans put it this way, “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” (From the Great Law of the Iroquois confederacy.)
Just how long would that be? It would vary from family to family, of course, but in my own, seven generations covers about 200 years. Could my great- ancestors-times-seven have imagined life in the twenty-first century? I doubt it. Nor can I visualize everyday life in the year 2213. But perhaps there will live a child two hundred years hence, the great-granddaughter of my yet non-existent great-grandchild. She’s the thread of an idea right now, but I’ll call her Septanna. “Sept” for seven and “Anna” for my progeny. What would I tell Septanna about life in my time?
This new category will include letters to the twenty-third century.