Walking and Talking: Three Golfers

Three golfers met up outside the Riverside Recreation Golf Course, along Route 36 near Saint Francis, Kansas. Two were riding in a golf cart as they played their round on a warm Sunday afternoon. One was trying to pull a cart with two flat tires, having just completed the first 100 miles of a 1700-mile solo walking journey from Denver to DC.

I’m that last golfer, of course, and I’m not sure what I’d say or do if I ran into a guy like me while playing 9 holes. But the two gentleman playing the course stopped to ask what I was doing. They wanted to know about my current situation and the cart, but also about the walk. When I told them what this walk was all about and my idea of Intergenerational Justice, they had even more questions. “What am I supposed to do?” they said. “Give me just one thing that I’m supposed to do.”

That’s a question that I get a lot and there isn’t an easy answer. I can’t say that if everyone sends a check for $10 to some address, that it’ll be fixed. What I can say is that if everyone keeps ignoring the problem, it WON’T be fixed--and ignoring is what people do when they don’t understand. So making people understand is the first step.

What am I talking about? This walk has given me a lot of opportunities to look into the inquisitive faces of hard working people and try to sum it up quickly so they can get on about their lives.

Here’s what I said to the golfers:

“I’m a golfer. I love it. I taught my kids to golf and my grandkids to golf.”

So far they agree.

“Imagine that this is the only golf course around for 400 miles. If we’re going to play—and we MUST play—we have to play here. Our kids will play here and our grandkids will play here. As time goes on and the golf course is used (and sometimes abused), it falls into disrepair. We know if things go on like this, this golf course might outlast us, but it probably won’t be here for our kids’ lifetimes. It certainly won’t be here for our grandkids. And their kids, that next generation, will never know the beautiful game that we loved: how we challenged ourselves and each other while appreciating the beautiful landscape and changing seasons.”

Their faces change. They are starting to get it.

“That’s how I see the world,” I say.  And as we part, I can see that they understand a little better.

The conversation is a little different with everyone. The common denominator is this—look around at what you love about this planet. Beach vacations, sunsets, family farms, fresh honey, the songs of frogs, eating oysters…. Think about what countries look like when they are enjoying peace time. Unless you’re actively working to preserve these things, you should count on them being gone for future generations.

It’s not too late. Unless, of course, you play this round like it’s the last and the only one that matters.

Bob McCormick