Ideas

The Enright Files asks: What do we owe future generations?

There's a reason why so many people seem uninspired by the current federal election campaign — our political discourse itself is uninspiring. This month on the Enright Files: the lack of poetry in our politics leads to the question: what kind of country do we want to leave for future generations?

Michael Enright and guests discuss the lack of long-term vision in our political culture

As young activists including Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (left), rally for urgent action to fight climate change, Michael Enright and guests ask: what are our responsibilities and obligations to future generations? (Getty Images)
Listen to the full episode53:58

There's a reason why so many people seem uninspired by the current federal election campaign — our political discourse itself is uninspiring. It's full of talk about supporting the middle class and niche promises to attract votes from key demographics, but devoid of soaring rhetoric, transformational ideas or a compelling vision of who we want to be as a nation. 

For years now, the political mood globally has been defined by anger, anxiety, suspicion and fear. Voters have been flocking to leaders who promise to make things better — great, in fact —- for them right now. That often means retreating to an idealized past when people were prosperous, populations were more homogeneous, and things were just, well, less complicated.

But what of the future?

The mood among young people has taken a turn for the anxious and pessimistic, with the spectres of economic precarity and climate change looming large ahead of them.

The media and popular culture pulsate with dystopic visions of crumbling institutions, an unraveling environment, and the disappearance of economic security for the majority of people.  

It's been said that those of us alive today are borrowing the planet from our grandchildren. And if the way we live and the choices we make now will determine the kind of world and the societies we will bequeath to future generations, what then are our responsibilities and obligations to future generations? What do we owe the future?  

This month on the Enright Files, conversations about the lack of poetry in our politics and about what kind of country we want to leave to future generations.

Guests in this episode:

  • Stephen Lewis is the chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation and former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations and UN Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.
  • Joseph Heath is a professor of philosophy at The University of Toronto and author of Enlightenment 2.0, Filthy Lucre and The Rebel Sell.
  • Lorna Crozier is the Governor-General's Award-winning poet and author of more than 20 books.
  • Naheed Nenshi is  the mayor of Calgary.
  • Cindy Blackstock is the executive director of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.
  • David MacDonald is the former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister and United Church of Canada's special advisor to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
     


** This episode was produced by Chris Wodskou.

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