Since that time, my life experience has, of course, deepened, and so too my exposure to the hopes, dreams, fears, and strongly-held convictions of many more people from many more places—those typically "identified" as "Boomers", "Gen Xers", "Gen Yers / Millennials"—while I, concurrently, have sought to better understand myself and how I have changed, and will continue to change, with time.
And while I may still wince at broad categorizations of any kind—particularly if such divisions are created or imposed by an entity other than the individuals themselves—I can no longer fail to notice frequent differences in attitudes and opinions between generations.
Am I embracing a stereotype?
No. But a recent post by Umair Haque gave me pause for thought. Here is an excerpt:
Dear Old People Who Run The World,
My generation would like to break up with you.
Everyday, I see a widening gap in how you and we understand the world—and what we want from it. I think we have irreconcilable differences.
You wanted big, fat, lazy "business". We want small, responsive, micro-scale commerce.
You turned politics into a dirty word. We want authentic, deep democracy--everywhere.
You wanted financial fundamentalism. We want an economics that makes sense for people--not just banks.
You wanted shareholder value—built by tough-guy CEOs. We want real value, built by people with character, dignity, and courage.
You wanted an invisible hand—it became a digital hand. Today's markets are those where the majority of trades are done literally robotically. We want a visible handshake: to trust and to be trusted.
You wanted growth—faster. We want to slow down—so we can become better.
You didn't care which communities were capsized, or which lives were sunk. We want a rising tide that lifts all boats.
You wanted to biggie size life: McMansions, Hummers, and McFood. We want to humanize life.
You wanted exurbs, sprawl, and gated anti-communities. We want a society built on authentic community.
You wanted more money, credit and leverage—to consume ravenously. We want to be great at doing stuff that matters.
You sacrificed the meaningful for the material: you sold out the very things that made us great for trivial gewgaws, trinkets, and gadgets. We're not for sale: we're learning once again [to] do what is meaningful.
On reflection, however, these differences of opinion need not be generational. While the philosophies portrayed in the first half of each couplet may, arguably, be more prevalent in my parents' generation, I still feel we have a long way to go before a more significant shift occurs to move us away from such attitudes in my own generation or in those some 20 years younger.
And that, I believe, is Haque's point—to provocatively remind us to not doom ourselves to repeat these mistakes, but to create new role models, both for ourselves and those who follow.
To better identify, connect, and collaborate with those individuals who share a more sustainable vision for our future, regardless of generation or however else society chooses to classify people.
To understand divisions and differences and transcend them through our words but ultimately, and most importantly, through our actions.