One of Sam’s stops on her hike up the aqueduct was the Big Pine Paiute reservation, where she met several leaders of the Paiute tribe and learned about their culture, their history, and how those things were impacted by Los Angeles’s water management policies. 

One striking notion Sam learned was that Paiute tradition teaches that when it comes to resource management, people should think how their actions will impact people seven generations in the future.  If your grandchildren’s grandchildren’s children will suffer as a result of something you’re doing, well, don’t do it.

A generation, generally speaking, is about twenty years.  That means that seven generations from now will be 140 years in the future.  What will the world be like in 2156, and how will our actions now affect it?

To be honest, I have no idea.

It’s so far in the future, I can’t even begin to fathom how my causes and consequences will play out.  Heck, even just looking at the changes in the world in the past century – the steam engine, oil, gasoline, solar power, and so much else – I wonder how anyone could ever begin to imagine what the world might be like seven generations hence.

 The height of technology 7 generations ago.

The height of technology 7 generations ago.

So instead, I’m going to advocate for something a bit less esoteric.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t think of long-term consequences or that we should ignore the future.  Instead, I’m saying let’s take what we can handle for now.  Let’s try to act in a way that will positively benefit the world seven years from now.  That’s much easier to grasp, and it’s much easier to act when we know we’ll be around to see the results.

And hopefully, if we take baby steps, little seven-year benefits, those will add up.  And our seven-year benefits will pay off year after year after year, so that in seven generations, our descendants can have a nicer planet to live on.