In the span of the last hundred years we have seen a great divide. We’ve even put certain age groups into pigeon holes. The years from 1900-1945 are the Traditionalists of which I am one. 1946-1964 created the Baby Boomers. From 1965-1980 we met Generation X. Those born between 1981-2000 were dubbed Millennials.
I’m included in a cast which will have its opening night this Thursday. I believe every one of those four generations is represented in the cast. You would think that us old timers would be a drag to the young whipper snappers, but such isn’t the case. Though I am the oldest member of this ensemble, I feel accepted and even respected at times. There’s something about the creative process which transcends age.
Each generation has its shortcomings and strengths. Each has its goals and beliefs. Each feels strongly about those things when their young. As time goes by, we learn that our elders aren’t as dumb as we think they are and eventually our zest for a cause goes through changes. Our emotions aren’t as volatile as they once were. Our experience has taught us well and the lessons we learn along the way have shaped us into what we are today.
Does that mean our differences should tear us apart? As aging grandparents and whimsical, enthusiastic young adults we have a mountain of information to share with each other, thus enriching each others’ lives. For example, the Millennials have a treasure trove of technological savvy. Those of us who grew up with manual typewriters, party line telephones and cloth diapers have so much to learn. In the course of fifty years alone the inventions which have occurred are out of the realm of our imagination. We need help from those who grew up with it.
Maybe in the next fifty years the millennials will need the same kind of help from the youngest generation. The Traditionalists, on the other hand, have endured a lifetime of change, wars, political differences and inventions. They have a history to share, because of that. Going through the school of hard knocks allows us to pass some of those things on to our grandchildren so they might not make the same mistakes.
We can have disagreements, no matter what our age. We can feel strongly about something and think we are the only one who knows anything. We can make fun of each others’ actions, wardrobe, abilities, mistakes, foolishness or talents, but wouldn’t it be much better if we could share those things and laugh together at them?
Personally, I love being with people who are younger than me. They give me energy and focus. They encourage when my strength falters. They lift me up when I feel sad or depressed. I enjoy their company because their youth makes me feel younger.
In a world which seems so terribly divided by opinions, tolerance/intolerance, politics and so much more, wouldn’t it be divine if we could instead treat each other as equals? I believe someone once said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Maybe it’s time to bring that rule back into existence.