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You’ve got (future) mail! A message from 2188 to 2013

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Dear People of 2013:
We got your letter! No need for forgiveness or apologies, we understand how difficult it can be to only see part of a trend. Wish we could answer each question, but we are limited to 2 pages. When we think we have touched on a question we put its number in brackets like this: [Q14].

[Q3, Q4, Q10-Q13] In the US, the implicit criminalization of poverty threatened to return us to debtors’ prisons of yesteryear. One of the writers from your times saw this coming:

Homelessness is illegal. In my city no-one is homeless although there are an increasing number of criminals living on the streets. It was smart to turn an abandoned class into a criminal class, sometimes people feel sorry for down and outs, they never feel sorry for criminals, it has been a great stabilizer. (Winterson, p. 19)

All that started to change in 2065. The crowdsourced fourth Complete National Count included all the empty homes that wealthy people owned but didn’t live in. Backing that up with data on the traumatic effects of homelessness we were able to pass the One Home per Owner law in 2101 over the objections of many wealthy people. But, when wealthy people sold surplus homes to avoid the added taxes housing markets stabilized. People were not taxed out of their homes, and we had fewer people thrown to the curb by evictions and foreclosures.

Another great spiral of social evolution began with a simple idea: partnerships—mutual, voluntary, co-equal partnerships. For inspiration we looked back to 1992 and Imagine Chicago. [Q6] Because of the power of partnerships, national and international ideas about sovereign governments morphed to consider each person, each family, etc. as sovereign. Gradually, rather than laws which relied on compelling behavior, pledges, which relied on voluntary good and mutual faith, began to get significant traction.

[Q4] Beginning in 2125 up until today, the Shared Fate Pledge has cut unemployment down to under 4 percent. For companies, this means in lean times everyone working for the company, executives included, accepts an hour and pay cut, with those in better paid positions taking more of a cut as a percentage of pay than those in less well paid positions. The key is everyone keeps their jobs. This isn’t new, of course, Lincoln Electric (since 1958 has had a no layoff policy), Southwest Airlines, and the Seattle Public Library were using something similar (though without public pledges) back in your day.

Philosophy and History departments in 2120 engaged the public in conversations keyed to the 500th Anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower. Their theme was “What cultural legacies did those 17th Century Calvinist Puritans leave us?” For example, John Winthrop, speaking on board the Arabella in 1640 led off his remarks with

GOD ALMIGHTY in His most holy and wise providence, hath so disposed of the condition of mankind, as in all times some must be rich, some poor, some high and eminent in power and dignity; others mean and in submission.

Winthrop said their colony could become the “city upon a hill” but many people questioned if these attitudes led to American Exceptionalism to always strive to be dominant and the separation of people not only by race but also by status or class.

The professors turned matters around and asked what American Humility might mean. “How would the main branches of government act?” “How would citizens view other cultures and nations?” “How would corporations act?”

[Q13] Around 2140, a spontaneous national longing arose to get out and meet each other “in the valleys.” A framework was resurrected from an activity used in high schools in the 2000s called Mix-It-Up Day. Sports teams began to encourage tailgate parties to “mix-it-up” and by 2157 brave families up and down and across the economic levels were “mixing-it-up” on Thanksgiving.

Much evolved from the combination of mix-it-up events and partnerships, but we’re out of space! Thank you for initiating a National Dialogue Network discussion on Wealth and Poverty in the US “back in the day.” Is that how you said it?

Say hello to President Obama from 2188 if you see him!
Sincerely,
Letter Back 7 Generations High School – College Partnership

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Questions to Future Sons and Daughters

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Submitted for NDN contributor Dyck Dewid:

Preface to my questions:  I must apologize for hurting you.  I am from a time when a body of fathers, mothers, and single adults are (collectively) just beginning to use our miraculous intellects to examine our discontent, anger, sadness, shame and suffering, etc…  Many of us are discovering our inner selves and our role in the external world.  I am/we are (difficultly, reluctantly) growing beyond what (we think) we know.  Perhaps soon we’ll stop hurting you.  Of course there has always been the producers of light and beauty, the visionaries, composers, inventors, researchers, writers, artists of all kinds… geniuses of the classics in our history.  Perhaps we in 2013 are now at beginning baby steps of a collective seeing humanity and earth in a different light… one that is not grounded in individuality and self interest.  In this light I ask:

  1. Can you… or have you forgiven me for the human suffering I’ve caused?  (as one of your many forefathers or mothers)
  2. Are arts and ‘the classics’ still revered, and what has been added since my time to light the way?
  3. Please name several most significant happenings since 2013, such as events, works, people, tragedies, that have contributed to sustaining a world civilization.
  4. Has the idea of Capitalism changed?  (i.e. Competing ideas of individual wealth & competition versus generosity & fairness)  Please consider in 2013 the influence of the corporation… its wealth purchasing favorable & clever legislation, its thirst for profit, its dependence on socially accepted (& advertised) ideas of ambition, competition, wealth, comfort, fear, individuality, w/o responsibility or accountability for plunder of earth or society… versus (unprofitable) primarily social responsibility to humanity and earth.  Examples are, consequences of: A government unrepresentative of the people; Continued use of fossil fuels on earth climate; Fracking; Unsustainable use of earth resources for short term gains; Waste disposal and Avoidance of Life Cycle product planning shifting those costs to the public; etc. etc..
  5. What  have people come to know about where to place ultimate responsibility  for systems of government and social disfunction or disharmony?
  6. Are there still individual countries/states or is there one world governing body?
  7. Is there a different, perhaps world economy and please describe what you have?
  8. Is low price still boss in your time?   (versus real value and fairness)
  9. In your opinion, what are the connections you see between ambition for wealth, or having influence of wealth (money and property) and the problems we’re facing in 2013… Global Warming, Large Uprisings around the world against those in power, War, Poverty and hunger and homelessness.
  10. How would you define Wealth and Poverty in your time?  Does it consider Abundance of earth as wealth, and Lack of Realizing that Abundance as poverty?
  11. Do you look at Wealth & Poverty, as most do in 2013, being the ultimate, perhaps insatiable measure of success (where Wealth is money, property and power.. and Poverty is lack of it)?  And although obviously ineffective at achieving happiness and peace, these seem to have been our values through much of our history.
  12. Has society (governance) changed to deal justly and fairly with civil rights and biases that rob women and minorities of their power, their land, their heritage, their freedoms, their just treatment under law?  Is there a connection in this to Wealth and/or Poverty?
  13. In 2013 we have a big problem: seeing diversity as a problem instead of rich in content and ‘another’ truth.  This causes havoc in our ability to achieve harmony in dialogue (and life).  Have you overcome this social diasability?
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Communications to the 7th Generation

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Introduction:

Seven generations is about 175-200 years. This is seven cycles of one generation’s children growing up and having children of their own. What they have to work with—or our legacy and their inheritance—is directly connected to who we are and the choices we make or allow or that get imposed today in our time.

The Wranglers for this thread (Dyck Dewid & John Perkins) set ourselves two tasks: composing a letter from today to this future generation and imagining a letter in return from this future time to today. Let these letters incite your own imagination.

9.16.2013

As I write this first letter to a generation far into the distant future, I find myself making up some presumptions. If I was comfortable using the word Hope, I’d use it instead. More accurately I say, “I’ll be surprised if there are living human offspring (sons and daughters) to answer my letter.”

My first presumption is that there still is human life on this planet (earth) past about 2100 in spite of the plunder of earth and inhabitants by my generation and those before mine.

Another presumption is that humans are actively engaged in learning and know more than we do in 2013 about the interdependence of every thing in nature.

Another presumption is that either a leader of supreme intelligence has come from without earth environment, or that humanity has developed intelligence to govern in & for harmony.

Another presumption is that humans will have learned to share all earth resources and how humans are integrally connected.

Another presumption is that humans will have progressed to be able to deal with technology primarily in humanistic ways rather than in primarily economic driven ways.

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Next post: Questions for future sons and daughters.

Yours, Dyck Dewid & John Perkins