To You, Generation Zero Hour

The environmental teacher Joanna Macy has said that the lack of certainty that there will be a future is the dominant psychological reality of our time. And I believe that the more future you have in front of you, the more you feel that lack of certainty.

But I’ve been watching this generation - Generation Zero Hour - for a while now. At Parents for the Planet, we have a category for your stories called “the kids will save us if we let them.” If we empower them, if we get out of their way, if we stop dawdling and delaying and interfering with their right to a future. 

So I want to talk to you, Generation Zero Hour. I want to say I’m so sorry that it has all come down to you, that we who came before you were too scared or too numb or too blithe to make enough changes. That we didn’t avoid this when it was cheaper, easier, milder. 

But I also want to tell you that you are exactly who we need right now. That your strengths are the strengths that will help us in this time. Your ability to embrace a full palette of humanity, a full spectrum of genders and cultures and backgrounds is a strength. Your ability to connect with each other in so many ways across boundaries and distances is a strength. Your determination and resilience are strengths. Your complete and glorious intolerance for deception and for injustice is a strength.

And when I list it all out, all these strength, it hits me. As sorry as I am that it has come down to you, through mistakes we who came before you have made, I can see the patterns of history that have been weaving your story for generations. 

There is the thread of speaking truth to power, from Shakespeare to Hamilton to Red Cloud to Angela Davis to you. 

There is the thread of resilience, carrying the names of every young person who has died in school shootings or at the hands of police and the hearts of every family and community traumatized by those events. 

There is the thread of acceptance, holding the stories of every loved one lost to AIDS or suicide, so that you could love more deeply and openly. 

There is the thread of rebellion, born in Hamilton’s generation and revived in yours. 

There is the thread of justice, from Frederick Douglass and Alice Paul to Martin Luther King and Dolores Huerta to you. 

There is the thread of determination, born in generations of people who survived slave ships and genocides so that you could carry their strength and will to live forward. 

You are the culmination of all this. No one before you has this depth of legacy. No one before you has this complexity of understanding and connection. No one else can bring these strengths to the fight as wholly and powerfully as you can.

I will be here, amplifying, assisting, alongside, in whatever capacity you choose. It is an honor to be with you, Generation Zero Hour.

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