There’s a whole lot I could say to my elders, especially those of similar “wavelength” to my own. However I don’t expect to encounter those who’d listen.
In my rather short time on this planet I’ve met only a small handful of older individuals with whom I could have enlightening conversation where we treat each other decently. To have met such a small number is disheartening.
There is something so tragically ironic about being told to think for myself by those who allow their own thoughts to be conditioned from their own blind spots. The same, once again, for being told to be considerate by those who focus mainly on themselves.
This short writing is not intended to paint with extremes. Of course, I understand that thinking for myself does not mean I should close myself off to learning from others. A balance is best. The same for being considerate of others while taking care of my own needs primarily.
There is a sad part, though, to my experience of all this. So many of my would-be mentors, teachers and guides hide behind deniable plausibility and “do as I say, not as I do” mentality. It has been a pain for some time, trying to find a line of communication where we understand each other and can work together for mutual gain.
I think life has been too different for the prior generations. For those of us growing up surrounded by electronics and endless information, communication and learning just doesn’t work the same way as it did for those who learned from paper and traditional systems.
I have long felt the burden of being a young conservative. It has been lonely because, in my community context I appeared progressive / liberal. I even believed this about myself. But going out into the world, meeting new people and having many new experiences, including serving in the military, it quickly became clear that I’m conservative and not just a moderate. I happen to prefer the more old fashioned way of being.
Well, I used to. It seemed that no matter what context, the fact of growing up with the latest waves of technological innovation has functionally turned me into an alien from the perspective of my priors. And for those of my generation, I have found very few with whom I could hold a meaningful dialogue.
And it was only through the Internet that we even got connected, which is all the more ironic.
Even so, all this time, I sought ways to connect with and understand the prior generations because I firmly believed that their experiential wisdom would be crucial to guiding my generation, and the generations following, in maintaining a hospitable standard of living for ourselves and those we care about, while hopefully improving the world for everyone in it.
Most especially, I believed they would understand the desire to create a joyful world not just for ourselves, but for our children, and our children’s children, and on for generations to come. I believed that struggling through the miscommunication and disrespect was worth it, for the sake of bridging the divide that I had been experiencing.
But it was not worth it. Perhaps it was only I and my few odd friends who were just not fitting into a cohesive picture. Maybe it was only the few of us who felt the divide. Or maybe it was just that our priors were much less than we thought they were. I don’t know. Any of these answers make me sad.
I looked and looked for examples to learn from. I thought I’d learn what we could do. Instead the main lesson I got, over and over again, was what not to do, and who to not be like.
Now my focus is different. Simply, don’t do to my youngers what my elders did to me.
I remember in my 7th grade class we had a lot of troubled kids. Our teacher told us about her past. She had been abused terribly. She told us that people tend to respond to these kind of life circumstances in one of two ways: either they continue the cycle, or they break it. She had chosen to break it.
That day, and her face, are burned into my memory. I had never paid as close attention in my class as I did then.
I know what kind of person I would want to be like. I want to be like her.