Note to the Class of 2017:
We’re sorry. We didn’t mean to create this mess. It just happened while we were busy doing something else.
You know how this goes. The country is just hoping to survive whatever the national government does next, and state and local government won’t be winning many prizes either.
Donald Trump? Everyone knew someone like him could never be elected. And then he was.
Congress? These guys just turned up one day. We’re still waiting for them to demonstrate they have backbones.
Debt. Crumbling roads. Unfunded pensions. People losing their health care. But don’t forget we gave you Dylan and the Beatles. (Truth is, Dylan and the Beatles gave us Dylan and the Beatles, but never mind.)
This is the world that we made for you. It’s complicated and angry, disorganized and uncertain. You’ll have to make the best of it.
Meanwhile, in the spirit of do as we say and not as we do, here’s some unsolicited advice for the future.
— Pay attention, and stand up for what you believe. The past months have taught us that our system of government is more fragile than we knew. While we were taking it for granted, stuff happened.
— Don’t believe a citizen’s job is to get everything he or she wants from government. A citizen’s first job is to understand how government works, beginning with the understanding that in a country of 324 million people scattered over 50 states, nothing gets done without compromise.
— Don’t fall for the special interest groups busy pretending that climate change is not happening. When Florida starts to disappear, the special interests will have sold their winter estates and moved on to other things.
— Every once in a while, put down your smartphone. If you’re lucky, you’re doing something useful with it a third of the time. The rest is time that could be spent doing something that brings you closer to what matters — loved ones, friends, your neighborhood, your town. (Don’t deny it. You know this to be true.)
— Celebrate that everyone is not like you. Without people of different ethnicities, religions and love interests, the world would be boring. Besides, you don’t have the right to tell someone else what they are supposed to believe or who they are supposed to be.
— Because life ain’t free, get a job. But try not to let it become your whole life. Unless it’s your passion — then go for it.
— Look out for each other. In recent years, we’ve seen enough selfishness and greed. Don’t ever believe that you won’t one day need help from someone else.
— Keep on learning. If you think you can get by for the next 50 years on what you know today, you will be sorry.
— Try to stay in Sonoma County. We know we haven’t made it easy for you. Housing is crazy expensive, and many jobs don’t pay enough to keep up with the cost of living, but the weather is great, and the wine is, too. Besides, the baby boomers will need your help when they get old.
— Recognize that you live in a time of constant change, and you might as well embrace it because complaining won’t make it go away. Some of your elders cling to the idea that they can bring back their glory days. It’s not going to happen - and thank God for that. Like the T-shirt — the older I get, the better I was — the glory days were never as good as people like to think they were.