26 August, 2013
Some time ago, I wrote that individuals born between 1950 and 1970 were probably the last generation of children who were raised by the village. Since that time, I have had an opportunity to talk to members of generations born after 1970. I decided to listen . . . to limit my “talking” to asking questions and answering their questions, and to keep an open mind. As I listened, it became glaringly apparent to me that the “generational divide” is real. As a result, the threads that held our communities together have unraveled. Tradition, history, and key pieces of information about successfully navigating the world outside of one’s environment, parenting, and social amenities have not been passed down to generations born after 1970. Is it any wonder that chaos engulfs many of our communities? Engaging in finger pointing and arguing about “who dropped the ball” is a luxury that we simply do not have. We must with all deliberate speed close the chasm that exists between the generations. We must engage members of the generations behind us in meaningful and instructive dialogue. We must share not only our successes but our failures. We must tell them, “Everybody makes mistakes and I hope you will learn something from the mistakes I made. Here is what I could or should have done differently. Choose a different path.”
Let’s get to work!
It is not enough to tell the generations that follow us that we have rising expectations for them. We must give them something to aspire to. If we are going to tell children and youths that getting an education is important and that they must stay in school and, at least, graduate from high school, so that they can get a job and earn a living, then we should make sure that they can at least find employment in the businesses located in their neighborhoods. How do we do that? By working with their teachers and the principal of their schools to ensure that they are getting a quality education and that the subjects they are studying will provide them with marketable skills that match the needs of the job market and the businesses in our communities. We should also be talking to our children and youths about becoming entrepreneurs – creating jobs not only for themselves but for members of their communities. We should encourage them to start their own businesses. We should teach them basic accounting principles, marketing, and the fundamentals of business law. If we are not in a position to do this, we should find others who can and will.
Let’s get to work!
Members of the generation fortunate enough to be raised by the village see the world differently than members of the generations behind them who may not have been nurtured, loved, and mentored by the village. Let’s look at the world through the lens of those who did not have the benefit of our good fortune. It’s important that we understand what they see and feel their hurt, pain, alienation, anger, and joy. If we are serious about healing our spiritually and psychologically toxic communities and transforming them into an emotionally and economically vibrant, nurturing, and safe oasis, then we need to listen carefully to what our children, youths, and young adults are telling us about what they need and want. We need to invest our time, energy, and wisdom in them and provide them with the love, emotional support, education, and social skills they must have to transform our global village – the world where approximately 7.1 billion of us live and work into a safer and better place!
Let’s get to work!
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