The installation of the "100% Waste Market" project at Collège Saint-Michel can be discovered from 29 September to 1 November in the exhibition Next Generation, Please!

Young people’s letters to their future selves

Gustave de Lophem

As part of the Repairing the Future interview series, BOZAR strives to open new perspectives for a future world by giving scientists, artists and thinkers from different fields, an opportunity to speak. In this context, we wanted to give a voice to younger generations, working with several participants in the Next Generation, Please! citizen project. The 16- to 21-year-olds from Brussels shared their vision for the future through letters they wrote to their future selves, 20, 30, or 40 years from now.

Gustave is an 18-year-old student at College Saint-Michel. He participated in the 2019-2020 edition of Next Generation, Please! as part of the 100% Waste Market project.

De installatie van het project ‘100% Waste Market’ van het collège Saint-Michel is van 29 september tot 1 november te zien op de tentoonstelling Next Generation, Please!.
De installatie van het project ‘100% Waste Market’ van het collège Saint-Michel is van 29 september tot 1 november te zien op de tentoonstelling Next Generation, Please!.

I don’t know if you remember me (you). We are 30 years apart; this letter is our only direct link. I’m 18 years old as I write this, and, as you may remember, I have an inquisitive mind. You can only imagine the countless questions I want to ask you, both personal and of a more general nature. Have you become a respectable, respected and respectful person? Are there people in your life on whom you can count? Do you fight for what you believe? Have you become a man?

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too, […] If you can dream – and not make dreams your master; If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim […] Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,  And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son! (Rudyard Kipling).

I imagine that you know more or less where your life is headed. I hope, however, that you continually set new challenges for yourself and push your limits. I wish I had already made it to where you are now at this very moment. I’m sure that, regardless of your grey hair, you remain young at heart. YOU’RE RIGHT! Take advantage of life’s every second!

Besides wanting to know everything about you, I’m also a bit worried about our common future. In 2020, people are convinced that the human race is headed for disaster if we continue to live the way we do! By 2050, have we finally realised that today’s individuals are endangering those of tomorrow and the future of our planet? Judging by my question, you’re probably wondering if, at the tender age of 18, I haven’t already given up on humankind. Rest assured, I believe in the human race and what we are capable of. And yet, today, in 2020, I have certain misgivings about the path we’ve embarked upon.

There is no questioning people’s goodwill, and yet, the individualistic and opportunistic behaviour of some leaves a lot to be desired. We’re living in an extremely fast-paced world; slowing down is not an option. We never ask ourselves what we’re chasing or wonder what our world will look like in 30 or 50 years’ time when our children are grown up. You don’t need to be clairvoyant to understand that things are messed up when it comes to the environment, the economy or the political arena, and that people expect more out of life and from the world.

I’m only 18. I obviously don’t have a miracle cure. But I have a dream… a dream in which we all take action to create a different world; a world where no individual is more important than the group, where we enjoy authentic relationships; a free world in which education is a universal right, where democracy is not an illusion and where ignorance is not pervasive. Acting to create such a world entails, first of all, being ready to combat ignorance, an insidious force that leads to extremism, individualism and violence. It requires efforts from all of us, not only from our leaders. The path is long and will require a supreme collective effort. At 18, and like people my age, I’m full of enthusiasm and convinced that we can make it! Everyone has to be ready to pitch in though… It means acting sensibly, consistently and with conviction when it comes to making a choice or a decision. It means accepting to fight against our own ignorance. And, at the same time, respecting the fact that another person’s beliefs are not necessarily your own, and keeping in mind that only people who don’t do anything don’t make mistakes.

I eagerly look towards the future, hopeful that all of us – you, your friends, young generations – will be actors of change! I’m confident in the future. We nevertheless need to work hard and act as one; we cannot make it alone.

Take care of yourself, uphold your ideas and ideals!

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