It's Only My World
To some degree, everyone has a view of the world that begins and ends with themselves. Everyone cares about themself and their children. But do you care the same way about your grandchildren and great-grandchildren or great-great-grandchildren. I think that's missing in most of us.
If you were lucky enough to live to be 130 and still be aware and you'd started your family early, you might imagine yourself sitting on a nice little folding chair in the shade of a large oak tree with a glass of lemonade next to you. You're at a local park and it's summer. The temperature is in the high 70's and there's a pleasant breeze that occasionally swirls past you. You're surrounded by people laughing and talking, they're your family and it's a family reunion. Your wife or husband is sitting next to you and there's a toddler between you holding up leaves for you to see.
The child has your chin. Your children are there and they are sitting at nearby picnic tables while their children who are now older adults help the younger adults set the food out and arrange the table. A group of men in their 20's and 30's, your great-grandsons, are clustered around a few barbecue grills and they're grilling various meats, chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, etc.
Different members of your large happy family periodically walk over to you and sit next to you or kneel and speak with you. You reach out and take their hand while you talk and they smile as they tell you what's been happening in their busy lives. Pretty soon they move on and someone else comes up to speak with you. When you finish speaking with someone, before they leave, they bend over and kiss your forehead.
Little children come over and climb up on your lap from time to time and just rest there a moment before jumping off to play some more. A young woman brings a baby over for you to hold because the little one's fussy and ready for a nap. The baby falls asleep in your arms while you speak to a grown grandchild who wants to tell you about their lives and take a picture of you.
I could write about this scene all day. It's peaceful and fulfilling even to imagine it. All these people love each other and you, and you love them. When you're with them you feel protective and protected and safe. They're your family. You can almost imagine a line of people stretching down through time, far removed from you in time but still all your family and all people like those at the picnic, loving each other. When you think it through, there is no point in the line leading away from you at which they become strangers to you. They're always your family.
That's how we have to think about this. We would not leave our children without resources and a place to live if we could help it. We would worry about our grandchildren not having enough to eat, not if there were something we could do to help them.
Every bit of the world we use leaves less for the line that comes after us.