Via Basel: Sophie’s Generation

The last six months have brought a rapid sequence of changes in my life starting with retirement from orthopedic surgery (after 40 years), to new relationships and finally  the birth of my first grandchild to name just the highlights. Along with dizzying pace of alarming and unsettling current events mainly in our country but also worldwide, this combination of personal and external shifts has presented me with a stark contrast between two very different scenarios, a satisfying and joyful personal one alongside a darker, unsettling, and disquieting outside one.

Because of my stage in life and circumstances I am more immune to and less affected by these external changes than my newborn granddaughter at least in the long run. I could therefore coast along with relative ease and comfort toward a more pleasant and less irritating type of existence, and in many ways I could justify it. After all I have worked hard and long and sort of “paid my dues,” in addition to having experienced many highs and lows, joys and sorrows, so maybe it’s time to relax and rest. Believe me, some days I hear my body asking me to do just that.

However, my concern for the health and wellbeing of Sophie, my granddaughter, has unequivocally changed my perspective. Every time I hold her close to me and visualize her potential I think of her future, not mine. That it can be so different and unpredictable has sent the alarm bells ringing and awakened me from my somnolence and selfish perspective. The challenges of Sophie’s generation will be major, numerous, and complicated. They range from effects of climate change to disruption from new technologies to social upheavals related to rising inequality and tribalism as well as ageism and other intractable problems. The list goes on and on and can be depressing to contemplate.

Yes, I am grateful to have received the gift of grandparenting and am elated but I also recognize my responsibility and even my duty to act on that generation’s behalf while I can, and until they are mature enough to take charge of their lives and the future of the human race. My hope is that the adults of present generations in charge now will not make that task impossible for Sophie’s and be faithful stewards for their children’s future world.

To that end I commit myself. How about you?


Basel Al-Aswad, father of EIL founder Chris Al-Aswad, is a yogi trapped in an Orthopedic Surgeon’s body. His loves in life include reading, hiking, enjoying nature, meditation, and spending time with his large Iraqi family, and now, retired, he will have more time for that. And for the next adventure.

Sophie Rosalind Steinmetz 


One response to “Via Basel: Sophie’s Generation”

  1. Joe Kilikevice says:

    Basel, thank you for your EIL letter and photographs of Sophie. What kind of world we leave her must me our number one concern. She is so beautiful and so dependent on us for everything she needs as well as the future world she will inherit. You name what we are facing very well.The issues are serious ones indeed. To those you mention I would add the assault on human dignity and civility we experience daily. I used to wonder what the supporters of such policies are not seeing. I now believe that they do indeed see what I am seeing and know as I do just what foul language and insult is, what the sexual assault on women is, what treating the truth with contempt is. The difference is, I find these things unacceptable. No, the current political and social climate are not the “new normal.” There is nothing normal about it. We have our work cut out for us if Sophie will have a future at all.

    With friendship and respect,

    Br. Joe Kilikevice

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