By Charles Morgan III
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.”
– Chief Seattle
It has become a worn out, meaningless, tiresome sentiment, probably most eloquently stated over 200 years ago by an Indian chief. It’s common to hear politicians talk about “leaving our children a better world,” “not saddling our grandchildren with our debt,” and “insuring that the next generation is more prosperous than this one.”
On an international, national, or even a local level, none of that looks like it’s going to happen.
I’m not capable of solving the world’s problems. I haven’t even been successful at solving problems on a local level (I was a city councilman for four years). I still struggle with personal issues.
But I do have a proposal for coming to grasp with the challenges that face The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.
Occasionally, the issue of term limits for elected officials is proposed in this country. It usually has bipartisan support. It is argued that congressmen and senators would be more effective if their terms were finite—and short.
Incumbents wouldn’t be constantly campaigning for reelection. They wouldn’t be targets for lobbyists representing special interests. Citizens could spring from the general population, perform a term of public service, and return to a regular job.
This idea is usually shot down quickly—by elected politicians.
I suggest that we try this experiment on a local basis, in the same district that Bob “He Coon” Sykes represented for 38 years in Congress.
In Destin, we inherited white sand beaches, a healthy Choctawhatchee Bay, and a perfectly located working harbor. We have spent my entire adult life mucking it all up. And done a hell of a job.
I include myself in the group that will be banned from elected public service. Anyone should be able to serve our town—in any capacity, for one term—and then move on. Age limits should apply. If you’re over 50, you can volunteer all you want—we certainly could use help in many areas. But you can’t hold an elected office.
I’d like for my grandchildren to go to the same elementary school their parents and grandmother went to. But I’d prefer they didn’t have to sweat it out in the same portable, FEMA-style trailers that their parents sat in 30 years ago. I don’t want them to get a good education. I want them to have a chance to attend the greatest public school in history.
I’d also like for them to be able to ride a bike, walk, or jog without getting murdered by an automobile. I’d like for them to grow up in a town with way too many parks, trees, public beaches, sidewalks, bike lanes, swimming pools, and tennis courts.
The chance of leaving this place in better shape than we found it is a slim one. But maybe, if my generation would gracefully step aside and admit defeat (or at least admit to gross negligence), the younger people in this village can figure things out and do a better job than we did.
We’re not going to leave this a better place than we found it, but at least let’s leave it to a younger generation so that they might have time to fix it.
They are our only hope.