Dad and I read The Last of the Mohicans some years ago. I have kept this quote close at hand ever since. Chingachgook is talking about the history of his people:
My tribe is the grandfather of nations, but I am an unmixed man. The blood of chiefs is in my veins, where it must stay forever. The Dutch landed, and gave my people the fire-water; they drank until the heavens and the earth seemed to meet, and they foolishly thought they had found the Great Spirit. Then they parted with their land. Foot by foot, they were driven back from the shores, until I, that am a chief and a Sagamore, have never seen the sun shine but through the trees, and have never visited the graves of my fathers.
I kept that quote hanging at my desk for several years and think of it often. I live 100 yards from the graves of my mother’s fathers. In what ways am I trading away my children’s heritage?
In an effort to write a short, concise post (for once) I apparently muddled my meaning. Chingachgook is, to my understanding, lamenting choices made by previous generations. I am a previous generation. The decisions I make today will affect my great, great grandchildren. Now I realize I can be excessively introspective but I think it is worthwhile to take a moment to reflect on the choices I am making. Will today’s decisions truly achieve the desired result? Even if they don’t, have I succeeded in raising children who are resilient enough to overcome whatever comes their way or am I raising a generation of victims?
My final question was wrong because it leads the reader to believe I am actively trading away my children’s future. I am not…or I don’t believe I am anyway. The right question was, are the decisions I am making today leading to my vision of a preferred future or am I simply gratifying present desires? I think it is worth taking a moment to consider and question my motivations.