Seven Generations

One sculpture in Harrisburg’s riverfront park grabbed my mind like no other. Seven silhouettes each cut out of the other lined up in a row.  Looking at it head on, it appeared to be one silhouette.  The effect of their joining together and breaking apart as I passed mesmerized me.

I didn’t want to spoil the effect by learning hard facts about it from any plaque that may have been with it, so I continued on my way.  Yet, the sculpture stayed with me, begging questions I barely knew how to form.  I began to wonder what the artist intended.  My curiosity was unexpected rewarded while I waited for my train home.  The walls of the station had some posters which I read to pass the time.  Turns out they were a guide to the sculptures in the park.  The piece that had engaged me was a reference to the Iroquois stewardship policy to consider the effect any decision would have on the next seven generations before making a choice.

Seven generations.

That would be my great, great, great, great, great grandchildren.

None of the trees my great, great, great, great grandfather and his father-in-law encountered while establishing their homesteads in Western Pennsylvania still stand.  Though it has been sold outside the family, the house my Cross ancestor built is still occupied.  How many of the new buildings I have approved for Zoning in the last four years will still stand seven generations from now?  Will they even survive for two generations?

How many of the next seven generations will be outlived by the plastic bag I brought home from the grocery store because I forgot my reusable bags?

What will happen to the latest gadget that will become obsolete in a year or so?  What will happen to all the energy and waste that went into creating it and then destroying it?

I’ve sometimes heard people question what kind of world they are leaving their children and grandchildren, perhaps even their great grandchildren, but no further than that.  What would happen if we set our sights a little bit further–a few more generations out?