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The Hopeful Generation

“We could could put seed packets in books and distribute them to school children and families…We could connect with universities… employ environmental groups…gain business sponsorships…”

That is the sound of Fairleigh Dickinson University students brainstorming how to re-forest our planet with one trillion (yes, trillion) more trees.

I know it’s traditional to look at the upcoming generation and fear for the future of our world.  But let me assure you there seethes an energy, idealism, and creativity in today’s college students unequaled in many decades.  Yesterday, FDU professor Gerard Farias invited me to speak to his “Managing Enterprise and Organizations” class.  As part of the course, the students select some social need and create an enterprise aimed at fulfilling that need.  These students have begun engineering a venture that will provide computers to computer-less young people so they may attend schools online.  I challenged them with trillion-tree project, which is currently being undertaken and by social entrepreneur Roland Schatz (with astounding success.) These students’ enthusiasm and depth of thought, along with their unabashed optimism struck me forcefully.  Having sat through many a “creative” session with businessfolks twice their age, I have seldom felt such positive hope.  ‘Twould not surprise me to come across some of these individuals in the future as candidates for the Prometheus Social Enterprise Awards.  So allow me this simple observation: whatever our generations have done to bring us to our present condition, we need not worry.  Hot on our heels is coming a horde of freshly inspired successors dedicated to making things a lot better.

Darn, We Were Good in 2020… and 2021?

No – don’t you dare dump 2020 the trash can of regret.  And for heaven’s sake quit wallowing in all those bemoanings you put in your Christmas letter, in attempt to share your pessimism and misery with others.  It’s the season of hope for God’s sakes – literally.

Yes, we were struck with a plague, compounded with myriad forms of civil & governmental strife.  But just look – just look at how we responded.

– Charitable giving overall went up 19.1 percent in the U.S. – despite a major portion of folks loosing jobs and income.

– Bicycle sales have risen 300 percent.  Manufacturers are more than a month behind orders from a nation that wants to get out and hit the road.  No keeping us down.

– More new volunteer food pantries and food providing services have risen up, and been manned by volunteers, than ever in our history.

– Yes, it has been demonstrated that insanity is inherited, with a record number of parents catching it from their homebound children.  But kids, with their typical resilience are learning online.  Schools have made enormous efforts to continue full education programs.  And never have more computers been donated to students in need (1.2 million in California alone.)

– The majority of us have worn those annoying masks, maintained physical (but not emotional) distance, even cut back our business in scores of ways.  We keep on fighting.

– And we have a vaccine.  The average time for vaccine development is 10 years.  Ebola and Sars vaccines were rushed through in four years – fastest ever until now.

So yes – humankind has responded amazingly well to the onslaughts of 2020.  And, if you will, allow me to raise a glass and bid a toast of gratitude and hearty approval to all of you.  We really have met the year’s challenges with remarkable nobility.  Kudos to us.

The Roman God Janus places one face looking firmly into the past, while his second face peers into the future.  And while only Janus and heaven know what circumstances Fate will hurl upon on us in 2021, please accept my private wish that we the people will face them with the same compassion, energy, intellectual creativity, and mutual courage that we showed in 2020.  I’ll bet ten cents of my own money that we will prove ourselves just as admirable in the coming year as we have in this one.

Wishing you every success in 2021,

Bart Jackson