Your money, your vote, your future

By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index

We, as citizens and voters, almost continuously have before us the choice of investing in the future – or not.

We as a community show our values and priorities by what we invest in. Our money, as individuals and as a community shows us, and others what we care about.

Investment in the future, whether in education, public infrastructure like highways and bridges, or in recreation like public parks, is the ultimate act of “paying it forward”.

I know many people who insist that we cannot afford to make this investment, that the cost to us, the ones who will pay is too much, and besides we might not even see the results of our sacrifice.

When I hear this argument, I can barely believe what I am hearing – even though I hear it often.

Everyone of us, we tend to forget, is the beneficiary of the generosity – even sacrifice – of past generations.

Ever cross one of our passes through the Cascade mountain range? You think those passes magically appeared?

Nope. Those passes were built thanks to the brute strength (plus a lot of dynamite) of hundreds, if not thousands of workers who put their bodies – and sometimes lives – in the service of the future most of them would never see.

Same with our highways, tunnels and railway lines – and much more

Anyone who serves honorably in the military does so in the service of and in tribute to a larger community – those who have served before and the legacy and promise of potential and progress yet to be seen.

Any of us who use our highways, use electricity, have a home, have an education, travel or even know how to read do so precisely because of the sacrifice of many, mostly unnamed and unappreciated, who gave of themselves so that we, those who didn’t even exist then, could have more opportunity.

Are we the one generation who refuses to contribute to the well-being, even survival of the next generation? Or the next? Or the next?

Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.   - Anonymous Greek Proverb

This still thriving village on the sea coast of England was built centuries ago. Photo: Morf Morford

This still thriving village on the sea coast of England was built centuries ago. Photo: Morf Morford

If you go to much of Europe or most of Asia, or almost anywhere in the world with a history, you see cathedrals, castles, bridges, sometimes entire cities built centuries ago.

It is not much of a stretch to make the argument that this is what human beings do – we build a world, an economic system, a public education program, or a political structure that will serve us – and future generations well.

Do they deserve it?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Do we deserve the sacrifices made by those generations who lived  long before us?

Maybe. Maybe not.

All I know is that I’d far rather be a member of a generation that did its best to leave a sturdy foundation for those yet to come and lived in appreciation of the legacy of those I would never meet – who gave of their limited, precious resources, even their lives, so that I could live and prosper in ways that few, if any, of them could have imagined even a few generations ago.

I don’t think the question is ever “Are future generations worthy of our sacrifice now?” I think a far better question, one that I hope inspires us to do what we know is right, is  “Are we willing to step up and take our place among the best and most generous generations and do our part for those we may never see, but will literally inhabit the world we have left them?”

It is the duty of every generation to prepare the way for those that follow.

Will we be the first to shirk that most basic of duties?