Ensuring a better tomorrow today

Published 5:19 pm Wednesday, May 1, 2024

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One of my favorite childhood films was Back to the Future Part II. I loved the flying DeLorean and the wild visions of the future in the year 2015. Watching it as a child, I couldn’t wait to arrive at 2015 because, according to the movie, there would be flying cars, automatic shoe laces, and floating skateboards with rockets attached. As 2015 has come and gone, we now know that the visions of the future in the film were hopeful at best, misguided and childish at worst. I loved the movie because it seemed like the future was something to look forward to, like there was an optimism and joy that propelled humanity toward something wonderful.

Well, I’m not sure anybody can say that humanity is being propelled towards something wonderful any longer. I was sitting outside yesterday while my son played in the backyard, and I felt a twinge of sadness for him because I don’t believe the future ahead of him is as hopeful as the future was for me when I was his age. Climate catastrophes, growing civil unrest and violence, and other societal ills spell out a more difficult future for my son than I ever faced.

But I cannot be content with such a realization. I cannot be content leaving my son something I would be ashamed to pass on. I cannot leave him the scraps of a shattered world. I must do something, anything, to make tomorrow just a little bit better. I need to find a way to instill a sense of hopefulness in my heart and in the hearts of those around me so that we can do our part to ensure a better tomorrow today.

In my religious tradition, we believe Jesus was serious when he said, “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20). In short, Jesus empowered his followers to live as if the kingdom of God was already here, as if the promised bright future was slowly becoming the present. He empowered us to make something beautiful out of the chaos of this present world.

For the sake of my son, and all those who will follow, we are obligated to do what we can to shine a light on the world’s gloom, to dispel the shadows, to live in such a way that those who come after us will thank us for giving them a chance rather than cursing us for dooming them to a painful and tragic end. What can you do today, immediately after putting down the paper, that will make someone’s life better? What can you do tomorrow to contribute toward a brighter future for humanity? Take your place at the front lines of pushing back against the gloom. Beat back the darkness. Let’s make tomorrow better than we could have ever imagined. The kingdom of God is already here. It’s up to us to uncover it and spread it abroad.

Chris Adams is the Rector at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.