What, in today's world, will appal our grandchildren?

This is the question posed in one of the features in this month's Intelligent life magazine. I considered the question for myself and considered a few more suggestions I could add to such a discussion. I also thought that such a question is a difficult one to consider as it requires some imagination: what will our grandchildren be like? The question also requires us to consider our current existence and lifestyle and curb our self-indulgence.

I considered for a moment what I find appalling about my grandmother's life:

  1. How did she live with apartheid?
  2. How could she have some many children as a single mother?
  3. How did she put up with the gender stereotypes? (there's an answer to that one: she never married)
The list is endless. But the more interesting list to consider is what my children's children could find reprehensible.
  1. How we treat poor people: those of us who live comfortable lives have an uneasy relationship with those "who are less fortunate than us". We tolerate them because there's nothing we can do about their lack. More importantly, living with a government that is anti-poor and pro-inequality, the problem isn't with us "normal people" but with "them", the government and the elite. I hope future generations will become less tolerant of inequality.
  2. The amount of money their mothers, grandmothers and aunts spend on their hair. I've come to consider that whether it's a GHD or relaxing or weaving or highlights or braids (and sometimes even natural hair such as dreadlocks): women's hair is expensive to maintain. Most women have caved into the beauty industry and we simply accept that spending hundreds or rands on hair is normal. I don't think it is. This is not to suggest that I have a solution for this quandary but I hope women in the future will be more creative and critical when it comes to their views about beauty.
  3. The way we treat women in spite of the gains that have been made: need I say more?
  4. Our obsession with the nuclear family: I think families are going to look very different in the future and the children growing up in alternative or "different"families will hopefully continue this culture that allows people to adopt and bring kids into the world with the help of modern medicine.
I can't think of anymore possibilities. But I think this question makes for interesting discussion. How many of us are considering the future? If we lived our lives with our grandchildren in mind would we make different decisions? I would be keen to hear more creative--and perhaps more frivolous--ideas about what might appal our grandchildren.


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