Generational wars are as old as mankind

While I waited at the bank to be served, I could not help but hear a mixed group varied ages argue about this and that.

While I waited at the bank to be served, I could not help but hear a mixed group varied ages argue about this and that.

They really had an interesting clash of ideas. A few days later I listened to couple of senior citizens, while sweated away in a sauna, complaining about how the world is losing it and how today’s young are bunches of nothings. They obviously had their own reasons.

I was then reminded of a Ms. Eda J. Le Shan quote: “In all our efforts to provide ‘advantages,’ we have actually produced the busiest, most competitive, highly pressured, and over-organized generation of youngsters in our history.” The most surprising thing about this is that Ms. Le Shan said it in 1922.

Let’s go back even further with the following quote: “I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was boy, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and impatient of restraint.”

Okay, the wording is a bit strange, but haven’t you heard someone say something similar recently? Believe it or not, this was said by Hesoid in 700 BC.

Every generation believes themselves to be right. They believe that their values, ethics and morals are the right and therefore the only ones to follow. They believe their manner of speaking, their attire and their attitudes toward life are the only correct way to live.

Like clockwork, every preceding generation does everything humanly possible to prove their elders wrong.

It’s a dilemma as old as time, and apparently something that isn’t going to change anytime soon. You will always find that the younger generations are somewhat more open to the idea of change than are the more mature folks.

The young generation will always view the senior people as uncommunicative, as never really getting to the point. This tells us about the need to learn cross-generational communication skills.  William James, American psychologist and philosopher (1842-1910) said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”

Perhaps we just need to open our minds to the idea that, over time, not much really changes. We all experience various stages in life that our parents and grandparents experienced before us – and that our children will experience after us.

Yes, the technology may be new, the methods of getting a job done may be different, but human nature will never change. At some point in our lives, we all become our parents. As emerging youth, we feel the need to energetically flaunt our individualism. As we age, we marry and have children and are so caught up in what life throws at us, we lose that energy.

As we approach retirement, we will begin to look at what’s behind us and what’s ahead and say things like, “the world is going to hell in a hand basket and these kids will be the ruination of us yet.” But pause for just a minute.

Put yourself in these kids’ shoes and think back – isn’t that the same thing your parents said when you were young?
Nyagapfizi Emmanuel is a Management Information Systems manager