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One step forward, two back

AS THE American historian Dr Ashleigh Brilliant commented: “All the evidence concerning the universe has not yet been collected, so there is still hope”.

The evidence so far is not too good.

While we baby boomers struggle to understand what tarnished the golden contract that said hard yakka would earn early retirement on easy street, and the Generation Xers struggle to push us boomers aside so they can do it their way to save the world, or at least enjoy the café life before it all ends, the Y/Why Generation are not impressed.

The following e-letter arrived from America recently, reminding us high achievers what we have achieved.

Please do not pretend it describes only America.

“The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers; wider freeways but narrower viewpoints. We spend more but have less; we buy more but enjoy it less.

“We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge but less judgment, more experts but more problems, more medicine but less wellness.

“We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much and pray too seldom.

“We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a

living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not life to years.

“We’ve been all the way to the moon and back but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour. We’ve conquered outer space but not inner space.

“We’ve done larger things but not better things. We’ve cleaned up the air but polluted the soul. We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.

“We write more but learn less. We plan more but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication.

“These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, tall men and short character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the times of world peace but domestic warfare, more leisure but less fun, more kinds of food but less nutrition.

“These are days of two incomes but more divorce; of fancier houses but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw-away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet to kill.

“It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology can bring this letter to you and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.”

Written by a student at Columbine High School, where two students gunned down a group of their

classmates.

• Ann Macbeth is a futurist and principal of Annimac Consultants.

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