top of page
  • Writer's pictureMaggie

Overcoming Futurephobia

Updated: May 19, 2020

Words and Graphics By Maggie Favretti, 2019, All Rights Reserved.

5 Understandings to Empower Ourselves and Our Kids for Life Now and for Whatever Comes Next

There are a few things we knew already but did not have the time (or the will) to confront. Nature, in her parental wisdom, has given us a time out.

It feels like a shaming, a burning, a very personal loss and also collective grief. A tearing off and tearing away. A great pain and deep suffering that is not over yet.

And yet. This painful time out is also an uncovering, a peeling back, an emerging of new growth after a forest fire: a gathering together, a shared experience, of creativity, love.

Understandings are starting to emerge:

1. Futurephobia is real. More adolescents and young adults are experiencing depressions and anxiety than ever before. They describe themselves as both helpless and hopeless. They are the canaries in the coal mine, telling us (the collective “us” who are supposed to be responsible for their development) whether they are rich or poor, “we are scared! We feel underprepared to thrive in our own lives, let alone to solve the complex global problems bearing down on us like an accelerating freight train, while we are tied down to its tracks by antiquated and corrupt systems created and sustained by YOU.” We can track and map the places in the world where the systems are the most broken by checking on the mental health of the kids. And by listening to them. Many are dealing with their futurephobia by Doing Something: Fridays for the Future, Impacto Juventud, innovative ventures in greening and cleaning our systems. More about that later.

2. There is a COVID Scorecard. Never has function and dysfunction of governance, economic and social systems been more on display. Look at the leaders. Who would you want to create your next government with you? Why? What kind of economic and social systems (aren’t they intertwined?) seem to have generated the most fair and equitable responses? These are questions we are answering in our minds already. We can use our answers as our recovery guide to help us aim for new systems that work better.

3. “Normal” is an emotion. It is a drive we can’t help—to want things to be usual and familiar again, to just get back to … what? The way things were? Partly, yes. We need an income, if you please. The truth is that “normal” is not going to be the way things were. Nor should it be. Let’s observe, think and create vision. How do we want to the new normal to go? If we take a step back now, we can make a leap forward. Together.

4. Kindness and Connectedness feels good and is empowering. People are connecting across “social distancing” in ways large and small. Thank you, internet, for allowing me to share COVID experience and creativity with friends in Nairobi, Puerto Rico and Korea as easily as I can with friends nearby. Disaster reveals depths of love in us, and a willingness to commit time and funds and emotional bandwidth we can barely spare to the common good or to the well-being of our neighbor. Our first acts of kindness start small. We feel good, and early success adds to our self-efficacy. “I CAN help” grows to “We got this.” Efficacy is a healing awareness of our power to change things. A calling out of what’s wrong and an unwillingness to let our emerging awareness slide under again. (This evolution frightens those who benefit from status quo.) Together, we own the tools to bounce back better.

5. Resilience is not DIY. Doing Something to help others is Resilience Healing 101. I made masks for the hospital according to a pattern they borrowed, using old cloth and a sewing machine borrowed from a friend. My mother started a week before I did, using a pattern she learned in Girl Scouts during The War. Quite simply, my ability to heal and connect was not my own, alone. Do-It-Yourself? More like Do-It-Together. Resilience works this way. We react based on how the people and systems around us react. We engage with the people and systems we inhabit to get things done. Our self-efficacy is really shared efficacy. Our emerging connectedness and new knowledge of what’s possible when we wield power across instead of down empowers us. One person or institution cannot create resilience, no matter how powerful they are. Can we join together to remake whole systems? It is happening already.

Education is the toolbox for our flexible future. We already have the tools and the capabilities, and COVID (Mother Nature’s painful time-out) is helping us to see which ones we value most, which ones may have gone missing, and which need some sharpening and sharing. Education that prioritizes efficacy and meaningful work focused on solving the challenges we face together enables learning and empowers all of us to change the world. Educators, students, parents, and community leaders, join me on a journey to refocus our energies to empower our children, youth and ourselves. Stay tuned for a series of short webinars (webini?) on topics such as Roots, Shoots and Systems (5 Ways to Empower Through Connectedness), Futurephobia: How to Teach About Climate Change Without Fear, 10 Ways to Teach Efficacy, and more. Subscribe to! Pass it on! Forward together!

289 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page