Paying It Backwards

Michael Nabert
6 min readOct 21, 2021

We declared war on our own descendants. They couldn’t fight back.

Photo by Pranav Kumar Jain on Unsplash

Our ancestors bequeathed us a world rich with promise and opportunity. Over a thousand generations, they built a planetary civilization rich with history, art, scientific understanding, medical advancements, and possibilities. I was part of the last generation to experience life before the internet. To think that we went from hunter gatherers at risk from local predatory animals all the way to splitting the atom, recombining DNA, and cataloguing distant galaxies is truly remarkable. None of it would have been possible without billions of people who came before us striving to make the world their children would inherit at least a little bit better.

Then, we decided to burn it all down. A new idea took root deep in our culture that had never been there before, but which is a natural outgrowth of relentless predatory capitalism that tirelessly rewards psychopathic behaviour. That idea is: If I can successfully impoverish the rest of humanity to enrich myself personally, it makes me smart.

Screw everyone else, everywhere else, and everywhen else, because only I matter. Me. I. Myself. What I want. My whim right this minute. My profits this very nanosecond. Those things matter more than the well being of my entire species, from now until the end of time.

That’s what speeding right past the highest level of inequality in history on our way to creating the first trillionaire amounts to. It’s what ignoring scientific warnings of climate change — and then increasingly horrific real world examples of it— all to maximize short term profits fundamentally means. For bigger profits today, we’ll make the entire world a brutal hellscape for everyone that comes after us.

Most of us refuse to admit it, avoiding looking at the issue too closely for fear of how we’ll feel about it when we look in the mirror. Some relish it, eager to rub salt in the wound at any opportunity, inordinately proud of their sociopathy. Both are just as deadly.

The reason you were born into a world with hospitals and roads and libraries instead of in a dangerous wilderness is all those generations behind you working to improve your world. We owe a better world to our descendants. Instead, we are…



Michael Nabert

Researching a road map from our imperilled world into one with a livable future with as much good humour as I can muster along the way.