I think that all there is that is left for me to say is ‘I’m sorry.’
You sit there by the window staring out at a world that is barren and colourless, and maybe you’re watching the soft fall of the snow on the road, or the raging of a monsoon breaking the iron heat of a parched land, or perhaps you’re stranded, looking out from your tower to the city below spread out like the entrails of a broken land.
I wish to apologise to you for the world that I will be leaving behind. Not for the Earth and all that grows and lives there. Not for the seas that roar and crash in their darkness and peacefully lap the shores in blue-green clarity. Not for the mountains, the lowlands and the air that you breathe. No, but for the continuing arrogance of my kind; the arrogance of knowing what is right.
Children, we have imprisoned you in your homes; we have made sure our cars can drive anywhere and destroyed your freedom to play; we have built on your playing fields and put fences around your woods. And to keep you quiet we have given you all kinds of entertainment so that you will never need to leave your bedrooms – you can live in a world of images and sounds that entrance, excite and exploit you. But your bodies want to be free to move, to discover and to play.
You are being put in chains by our ideas, by our certainty that we know better than you and we know what is best for you. We like to dress you up in uniforms so that you look the same as all the others, force you into vast buildings, have you divided by age and coerced into tests and examinations that will determine whether your life will be a success or a failure. I’m sorry that we’ve made you into faceless, disposable, mechanical units. You, with all your beauty, life and energy, will be bound into a colourless book that contains the story of your lives before you’ve had a chance to live it. And we’ve sought to dominate you through fear; fear that divides; fear that paralyses; and fear that makes you fight your fellow beings.
We’ve forced you into thinking that to compare and to compete is the only way to live. So, quickly you will forget to help, to listen and to share, and instead you will be required to lie, to force your opinions, and to take all you can for yourselves.
Have you seen the images of children lying lifeless on the shore, in the bombed ruins of their homes, and the hungry deserts of the world? Have you seen the tidal waves of rubbish that choke our seas and strangle all creatures? Have you seen the scars where once were trees and where all manner of living things moved freely? And have you seen the grinning men and women who tell you that they know the way to make your life better, while they make the money that keeps you in chains in a room with no doors and a screen instead of a window?
You may not have seen them yet, but they are there, I assure you. And you know what? I put them there; I am sorry.
So, I’m participating in this story of which you are part, a story consisting of conversations from the past and the present; a story that is not just made up of words. It’s probable that I will not see much of it, but you will. And the first few words of this story are: ‘Does it have to be like this?’... Our lives will be the answer.