To plan for future, we must look beyond ourselves

This week’s issue is a weighty one. Our writers cover same-sex marriage, group marriage, China’s one-child policy, Internet pornography and the global effects of an aging population. It’s not exactly light reading, but we hope it will be valuable.  

Brian Fraga’s In Focus (Pages 11-14) is the first of a two-part series looking at our “graying world” — this week from a macro lens and next week through the lens of the Church. He shares some startling statistics, most notably that by 2030, the United States will have 72.1 million people older than 65; more than twice the elderly population in 2000. At the same time, people are having fewer children and global fertility is declining, negatively affecting generations to come. It’s a problem economists saw coming decades ago, but it’s one that continues to loom partly because it’s easier for us to live in the “now” than plan for the future. It’s a self-centered approach — one that’s manifest, too, in the staggering national debt, the lack of concern for our planet, the callous treatment of life at all stages, and the flippant regard for the importance of the traditional family.  

It begs the question: At what point do we stop looking inward and start thinking about those who will come after us? Is it at the birth of our children? Our grandchildren? Does it happen with the loss of a job? From a boost of faith? What defining moments in life have caused you to think beyond yourself and to the future?  

I recently found a letter my grandmother sent me shortly after 9/11. I had called her, shaken and startled, and looking for comfort, balance and wisdom. In a few short paragraphs she empathized and reassured. And she ended with these words: “My prayer is to see peace settle in for my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. For all those have their lives before them.” 

Knowing she was in the twilight of her life, she wanted only the best for those coming after her. She was able to see the big picture — one where she didn’t play an active role. That should be our goal: to reach the point where we fight our natural instincts of self-centeredness and immediate gratification and instead look ahead to how our current decisions are affecting those still to come. It’s a big challenge. 

We can’t do this alone, and the good news is that we don’t have to. In this Easter season, we continue to look at the example of Jesus, who by dying showed us the epitome of what it means to put the good of others before oneself. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he begged that the cup might be taken from him. But he submitted to the will of his father, and God provided: “And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him” (Lk 22:43). 

As we face an uncertain world, let’s ask God to send us his strengthening grace so that we might see beyond the “now” and better plan for generations to come. 

I welcome your thoughts: