Traveler asks profound questions, no easy answers


CHRISMAN – Having time to think can lead one to ponder issues beyond the workaday world.

Bob McCormick, 69, has a lot of time to think. He is on a mission to walk from his home in Denver, Colo., to Washington, D.C. The goal is to raise awareness about intergenerational justice and encourage those he encounters to participate in broader thinking.

“While I’m walking I have plenty of time to think,” said McCormick.

He left his home at sunrise Aug. 2 and made a stop Tuesday, Oct. 9, at the Old Brick Inn Bed and Breakfast at Chrisman. His schedule is to walk four days and take a day of rest.

McCormick is happy if he walks 100 miles each week and anticipates reaching Washington sometime around Thanksgiving. He has had two hips and one knee replaced and is careful not to do more than his body can handle.

A long-time reader of philosophy, McCormick encountered the concept of intergenerational justice approximately 12 years ago. It was an epiphany, and he has studied and thought it about ever since.

The idea of what obligations do humans who are alive today owe to those yet to come weighed heavily on him until he felt compelled to do something, so he planned to walk to the nation’s capital and talk to people on the way.

McCormick is not an ideologue who expects everything to turn around at once because he is involved.

“We all have the right to speak, but we don’t have the right to be listened to,” he said. “My hope is people in Washington will be willing to listen because I walked 1,700 miles for what I believe in.”

His concern is the economics of current human activity in terms of finances and what it is doing to the environment.

“Our debt is close to a trillion dollars,” said McCormick. “That is a global issue. Current humans are spending more than we create.”

The intergenerational justice aspect is the interest and principle on that debt is left to future generations and how that will hinder how people live and what they can accomplish in the future.

“We haven’t accepted the responsibility of being the Earth’s current humans,” said McCormick. “My grandchildren and future generations will suffer for that, and I don’t think that is just.”

It is not just debt that worries him. A rapidly deteriorating global environment caused by human activity has the potential to cause unimagined suffering for future humans, and we are running out of time to address the problem in a meaningful way.

“The most recent U.N. report says we have 10 years to avoid a climate catastrophe,” said McCormick.

Here is another topic for which future humans will condemn us for being so shortsighted.

McCormick said people have the ability to change all of this but so far have not shown a willingness to do so. He pointed out homo sapiens appeared about 200,000 years ago so approximately 8,000 generations of ancestors separate those first humans in Africa and contemporary people.

“We are very early in the story,” said McCormick. “We are like adolescents leaving our garbage for someone else to pick up. We behave like carefree teenagers who don’t think about the future while we go about mucking up the planet’s one filtration system for air and water.”

The walk so far has reaffirmed McCormick’s optimism that as individuals people are good and caring. He said people have brought him water and food and contribute so he can stay in lodgings rather than camping on the side of the road.

“Well over 90 percent of the people I talk to agree and understand that injustice occurs between current and future humans,” said McCormick.

He recalled meeting an Illinois farmer who carries great guilt for what his chemical dependent operation is doing to groundwater but cannot find another option because he must produce the high yields to remain viable.

McCormick said politicians in Washington are incapable of solving this problem because they are so embedded in how the system works and have self-interest in perpetuating it.

“We have to change the way we act, but it won’t come through politicians or Congress,” said McCormick. “A change like this has to come from the bottom up.”

The change, McCormick said, starts with thinking globally and long term. All decisions must be weighed against global implications and what the long-term results are for future generations.

“I don’t want to point blame but our current leadership is involved in short-tem thinking,” said McCormick.

More information about McCormick and intergenerational justice, or to provide a donation, is available at