A Pledge to Future Generations
from A Message from Future Generations
by Allen Tough, Ph.D., University of Toronto
email tough @ ieti.org
Some people will adopt this pledge just as it is. Others will modify it somewhat to fit their own style of commitment or their own level of caring. Still other people will prefer to develop their own unique pledge, perhaps stimulated by this particular example.
To the people who will be born during the next few decades, I make this pledge.
Although humanity is far from perfect, I believe it is worthy of my respect, affection, compassion, and nurturance. I am fully aware of the suffering, ignorance, selfishness, and greed in the world, but I do not condemn human civilization nor write it off as hopeless. I believe that humanity can continue to flourish if enough people care about the future, learn about their options, and make good choices.
For me, it is very important for human culture and society to evolve in positive directions. Nothing is more important than humanity's continued flourishing over the next few decades. For me, this is a core value.
Because I care deeply about humanity, now and in the future, I will do my best to live up to the following principles.
- I care about the well-being of all of you who will be born during the next few decades. Your needs are just as important as mine. When I make a major choice in my life, when I face a significant ethical or moral question, and when I am involved in public policy or decision-making, I take your needs into account. I do not let narrow or short-term goals jeopardize your needs and rights. My choices support the principle of equal opportunity for each generation: your opportunities and well-being should not be less than ours.
- I choose paid work or volunteer work that makes a positive contribution to humanity's ongoing flourishing. I do my work with conscience, with respect for the planet, and with concern for future generations.
- Because the institution of war causes so much harm over the years, I speak up against warfare, arms trade, terrorism, and violence. I point out that better ways exist for handling conflict, greed, anger, hatred, and the urge for revenge. Because I believe that the world's storehouse of weapons should always be kept well below the level that could end human civilization, I support campaigns for major reductions in nuclear and biological weapons.
- I play my part in halting the deterioration of our environment, and I support efforts to achieve a sustainable relationship with our planet. I try particularly hard to avoid actions that might reduce the ozone layer or increase global warming. Instead of choosing luxuries and activities that harm the environment, I focus on my most significant underlying needs, such as relationships, learning, giving, contributing, health, a spiritual connectedness to nature, and other simply joys in life. I do not use material goods to meet my psychological and social needs. I understand that the middle-class and upper-class people who consume more than they really need harm the planet more than the poorest 1,000,000,000 people do.
- I understand and support humanity's urgent need to halt population growth in all countries. In my own personal decisions, I am strongly influenced by this. I take highly effective steps to avoid pregnancy except when I have made a careful and thoughtful decision to have a child.
- Through words and actions, I support some of the additional goals and directions that will help our civilization flourish over the next few decades. These positive goals and directions include the following:
- the health and well-being of children
- understanding and cooperation among diverse cultures
- a deeper understanding of the universe and our place in it
- deeper understanding of world problems and the needs of future generations
- widespread freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and learning
- pervasive awareness of the long-term perspective
- experiments with innovative policy-making and governance
- a designated spokesperson for future generations in all political and military decision-making
- a widespread sense of meaning and purpose, based on caring about future generations and commitment to building a positive future.
- I support local organizations, political parties, government policies, and international organizations that foster these principles. I oppose those that do not take seriously our responsibilities to future generations.
- When deciding how to spend my money and time, I seek an appropriate balance between my own needs and those of humanity.
- I continue learning in some depth about the world's problems, about their possible solutions, and about our various potential futures ranging from utopian to apocalyptic. I face my feelings about these problems and options, and avoid becoming stuck in hopelessness and paralysis. I speak up to counter misinformation and untruths, but I also keep an open mind to new ideas and perspectives.
- I realize that I live in an era that is making some of the most significant choices in human history. I zestfully accept the heroic challenges of my era, and do my best to make a positive contribution.
Copyright © 1995 by Allen Tough. All rights reserved.