“We just want you to know that we did our best.
“I know it’s not much really, not in the great scheme of things, but that’s all we can say. We did our best, we tried our hardest - we’re sorry that it wasn’t good enough for you, for any of you. You deserved better than we could deliver, and we’re sorry.
“Sounds pathetic, I know. I want you to forgive us, if you can, we didn’t know, or if we knew, we never really understood. There was so much going on all the time, such a constant hum of words and news, our phones demanding attention, our glowing screens calling to us, that we didn’t notice before it was too late. Some of us did, but how were we supposed to know? How could we have understood what was fact and what was fake?
“We did our best, that’s what I’m trying to say.
“I don’t know how I know that that’s true, to be honest. Could we have tried harder? Let’s put it more precisely - could I have tried harder?
“Of course. Of course I could. There were so many days when I let it all wash over me, while I watched the latest super-hero movie, or youtube clips of cute goats falling over, or eating takeout. Why wasn’t I frantic? Why wasn’t I running around screaming that the house was burning down? I don’t know really. It seemed like a marathon and not a sprint, even when the finish line was hurtling towards us.
“We did our best, I say, because I need you to forgive me. And not just me, I need you to forgive everything my generation took from you, stole from you. I want to be able to look you in the eye, and see that you understand why we did what we did, why we stayed silent when the world was falling apart. I need it. It’s the only way that I can find peace - imagining the look in your eyes, nodding and understanding. Forgiving us. Forgiving me.
“I don’t think we deserve it. I don’t think I’ll live to see it, either, but across the years I hope that these words will reach you. Somehow, drifting on the tides of eternity, my little message in a bottle may wash up on your distant shore as you scavenge to survive. You’ll wonder what words of wisdom your ancestors left for you, what seemed so important that it had to be recorded forever.
“I’m sorry. This is it.
“No wisdom - turned out we were sorely lacking any wisdom that really mattered. No message of hope or love - there is precious little of either, and in the end each person must find their own. Just an apology and a request.
“We’re sorry for what we did, and what we failed to do.
“But now we need you to admit, that if you were in our shoes, if you were faced with the same choices, you’d do exactly what we did. The flaw was not in us, it was in our species, in our nature. Right?
“You have to admit… that you forgive us. Right?
“Because then it can’t be our fault.”