When did we start naming generations? Maybe with the (exaggerated) “Greatest Generation”? All I know is that I am the “can’t keep the generations straight” Generation. But naming them isn’t the problem, it is the symptom. The fact that we claim all sorts of negative and positive traits for UltraMillennials or Generation X,Y and Z is a sign that we we didn’t mind the Gap and it grew so large and gaping that we have all fallen into it.
When I was growing up we didn’t name generations but we talked about the generation gap. I understood this as the reason why my parents didn’t like my music or fashion sense. In the old sixties beach movies it was about lingo, music, and social norms. Those old parents couldn’t understand that things had changed, that the old ways were out of style.
Some see this as progress. Each generation improves upon the previous one. The new music is better than the old. The new art more authentic than the old. The new technology better than the old. The new social norms make more sense—or at least are more easy to follow.
But you and I look around and begin to wonder: How is this world better than my parent’s or grandparent’s, or great grandparent’s world? Sure, you can name things like indoor plumbing and A/C. But, even though I can carry my phone in my pocket, it doesn’t sound or work better as a phone than the one attached to the wall in my childhood home. In fact it is worse—as a phone.
Setting aside technology, what about culture? For that matter, what is culture? And why should I care?
When the culture goes haywire, what it is becomes clear. We look out into the world and we see confusion about men and women, mothers and fathers, families, the roles of community leaders. We see rampant mental illness, destructive lifestyles, depression and violence. Our current culture is not safe, or sane, or beautiful, or inspiring.
So, culture includes the way in which a society sees the nature and purpose of man. That society can be a family, a neighborhood, a town or village, a parish or church community, a city, a state, a country, a region of the world. Culture involves the way men and women interact with each other and the world. It includes how man seeks fulfillment and happiness, how the weak are cared for, how the strong are depended upon. It includes all that man creates with his hands, his voice and his mind.
Back to generations-the word comes from “to generate” (to bring into being). The group of people born in a particular stretch of time come from the previous group and generate the next group. While they are alive they bring into being not only more people, but also art, music, buildings, societies, technologies and inventions and many more things. They also experience natural disasters, peace time and war time, life and death, suffering and joy. What they learn comes from the previous generation and from their own hard work and ingenuity. What they pass on comes from them.
But when there is a large gap between generations and they fail to communicate and pass on what they have from the previous generations, then everyone starts from scratch and is doomed to the same mistakes of the past. In the process much wisdom is lost and our true identity as mankind is clouded. That gap is a real thing. But it isn’t something to laugh at, or rejoice in, or even to bridge later, but something to fear and fight.
But how? I am thinking about that and will write more. But, I would love the input of others. What do you think?
Very wise post!
'Society' (the culture-controllers) have invested heavily into mocking parents, prior authority, fathers, mothers.
See "simpsons", "all in the family", "married with children". All television is adults acting like children, why is that?
Notice people emulating that?
I won't burden you with root-cause comments. Glad you see symptoms.