Today we want to talk about how the future is being destroyed by selfish, short sighted men. It’s a really big deal as dads that we take very seriously our responsibility for the future beyond our lives and this has really been a challenging thing in our culture because of the hyper individualism we live in, we are losing sight of how much the whole, the future of the world really depends on fathers making decisions that really go way beyond their lifetime.
There’s a famous Greek proverb, and this is an area where ancient cultures tend to have a really, really clear understanding of the importance of sacrificing for the future generations. But I love the way this Greek proverb reads. It says, “Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”
I love that quote.
It’s a really big deal that we plant trees for future generations and I saw an example of this recently, I don’t know if you guys caught this, but in trying to clean up from the sort of the nuclear waste that resulted from the problems at that nuclear power plant in Japan, there was a whole group of older Japanese gentlemen who decided to take on that responsibility and Mr. Yamato, one of these men said, “I’m 72 and on average I probably have 13 to 15 years left to life. Even if I were exposed to radiation, cancer usually takes 20 to 30 years or longer to develop. Therefore, us older ones have less chance of getting cancer.” Then a writing about this, it says, “Basically a group of 200 plus retirees are volunteering to expose themselves to high levels of radiation, so the younger men and women don’t have to, making the ultimate sacrifice to protect the lives of their children and their children’s children.”
I love stories like this. Again, ancient cultures really tend to have a lot of consensus around this and our culture, we don’t have a lot of consensus around this. There’s almost like a sense in which the generations are competing with each other instead of there being an assumption that older generations are sacrificing for the future and that’s considered a really good thing.
What are your thoughts, Jeff?
I love that and I love what you put in the notes too of just how this actually is impeding or infiltrating every level of culture. Family level, we just now live. We were short sided not long and we don’t play the long game and it’s in every single area. Like you even said with family, it leads to impulsive pleasure. We just consume and we cannibalize ourselves and pass nothing down to our kids.
At the church level, we just want to get a bunch of people saved, get them to raise their hand. We don’t actually make disciples, which actually is the thing that will take us 100, 200, 300 years from now, hence even the 12 from 2000 years ago because they were discipled and then discipled.
Then the government level, like you said, with generational theft of national debt, where we actually are living on almost our kids’ money or at least kind of leveraging from their future and it’s detrimental to us.
I think it’s so permeated every facet of culture that we don’t play the long game but one of the antithetical things to that is the scriptural narrative of fatherhood, of parenting and of family. It is the longest game. It is the game that is still connected by one thread all the way back to the very beginning and it’ll go all the way to the very end where we are the family of God renewed at once in the new Jerusalem.
So it’s like literally the longest game and so we have to catch that vision. We have to step ourselves in that narrative and like you said, plant those trees, knowing that you won’t benefit or eat the fruit of that tree or sit under the shade, but your next generations will and then hopefully they’ll actually do that same value to the next generations.
So. I absolutely love that. So you guys, fathers, if you’re listening, just ending with that quote and we’ll let it sit with itself as we end. It said again, “Society grows great when old men,” or I would even say old fathers, ‘plant trees whose shade they know, they shall never sit in.”