Adapted from Life, Money and Illusion.

Why Seven Generations?

There is a tradition in some societies, whenever decisions are being made, to consider the interests of the next seven generations. For the modern world to do the same would mark our passage to maturity.
Thus began Planning for Seven Generations (1993). The statement is based on an indigenous North American tradition implying that decisions should be based on long-term considerations, rather than short-term interests. On seeing that book, someone who had grown up with the tradition answered a question I had often been asked: “Why seven generations?”

At birth, some of us have great-grandparents to marvel at our arrival. Most often we know our grandparents and our parents. We know ourselves, and as time passes, our children, our grandchildren and, in some cases, our great-grandchildren. These seven generations are the longest subjective “yardstick” available to human experience.

If work is, indeed, “love made manifest,” as Kahlil Gibran
suggests, there is no greater love than that of parents for their children. Grandparents usually have great affection for their grandchildren, and great-grandchildren are a wonder and sign of great good fortune for the parents of their parents’ parents. Not only does seven generations measure a significant period of time, it is a time frame distinguished by compassion.