No doubt we were a Dark Ages to you.
And paradoxically we had so much —
for instance the millions of species
we let go extinct on our watch. Our
ignorance, not least of our own wealth, was
inexcusable. Even the land mass
we inhabited was luxurious compared
with your deserts and reduced shorelines.
We enjoyed the relative security
of fixed national boundaries before
irresistible mass climigration
rendered those borders irrelevant.
We fought over things we shouldn’t have —
who loved who, how we identified, what we
thought about God — while letting the super-
rich rob us to the last penny. Worst, though,
was our willingness to let distractions
prevent our seeing the real damage
our way of life was doing to the planet
as a habitat hospitable to our
species, not to mention those countless
other species to whom Earth belonged.
For that alone I fear our age will live
in infamy as long as sentient beings
dwell in the house of the universe.
(Dear future, I know you’re an abstraction,
that I’m in fact writing not to our imagined
descendants but to us here, now.
Indeed, we are the ones who need to read
this letter, not you, because without our
contrite and dedicated action,
there may be no “you.” So I fold the pages
of my hope and grief into this envelope
and let it fall to the ground before reaching
a mailbox, on the chance that another
may pick it up, open it, read it, and
join with us in changing the present,
the only way we can change you, dear future.)
—Thomas R. Smith