Imagine Better

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Bùi Linh Ngân

How did you do it the future asks?
With your outdated customs and old-fashioned clothes.
How did you do it? Without much science or sense.
Did you do it for us?

Not for you, we answer, at least not at first.
Amongst our bling and bravado we built a tomorrow,
of beauty and fairness and super smart systems.
Our disposable culture created up-cycling.
Some selfied whilst some starved, yet less starved than ever before.
Grand sweeping propellers caught energy from air,
whilst we burnt more oil than all of our past.
How did we do it? We talked and we tinkered.
About kittens and catastrophes in the same breath.
We engaged and invented.
And believed our own stories.

But how was it possible the future asks?
How could you be both? The best and the worst.
We learn about you in school, but we don’t quite believe.
That people obsessed with their stuff could invent circularity?
Or whilst grubbing for money you ended the worst poverty?

You don’t really get us, you happy descendants.
We stood on the cusp between better and worse,
but passionately wished to avoid the whole question.
Distracted by baubles and divided by ethos.
Isolated, unequal, silly and dangerous.
We stood in the gutter, whether obese or dirt poor.
But enough of us started to shout, cry or build.
From anger or passion or joy in invention
Of technology and language and new ways of being.
Not noble, not smart not even that visionary.
We managed to build the basis for better.
Better energy, better food, better lives and more living.
Better systems, institutions, business and believing.

All true, says the future. We live here and thank you.
The beauty and brilliance of all we enjoy
Are gifts from those people who cried, built and shouted.
With your outdated customs and old-fashioned clothes.

How kind, today answers, you deserve what we left you.
But one question for those who enjoy our bequeathing.
What wonders and follies will you leave behind you?
With your new modern customs and fashionable clothes.