Pointing generational fingers

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles, posts, and memes that focus on blaming and criticizing different generations. I get it. It’s easy to criticize another generation (or multiple generations, which some authors have the capacity to do apparently). And it can even be fun to poke a little light-hearted fun at different generations and their peculiarities. Every generation has their uniqueness about them.

But it seems like there are more and more genuine attack posts and articles really going at various generations. Scapegoating isn’t anything new in humanity. Humans are really good at blaming others for problems after all. It’s much easier to blame and scapegoat, rather than look inward and do self-examination, or at the very least to look outward and too how connected we are to others who are different from ourselves. It takes real work to see how we are connected to people who have varying degrees of “separation” from ourselves due to age, gender, ethnicity, language, culture, nation, economic level, or anything else that might come between people. It’s much easier to spot the differences blame people for the problems that exist.

And let’s be real. There are problems in the world – real problems. And people are the cause of those problems too. Let’s not sugar coat that.

Blaming isn’t going to solve those problems though. Especially when we blame in a generic sense – when we lump entire generations together, or nations, or classes, or anybody for that matter. Let’s deal with the problems, look at the realities of those problems, see the data and where the problems actually originate from if possible (and recognize that problems are often pretty complex). I think part of the issue that I’m talking about here is that the blaming and scapegoating of generations that goes on is really just a simplification of things. It’s an easy out. And easy answer to something much more complex. Humans are often looking for easy answers to complex situations and problems. We want the easy and the simple. I don’t know if it gives us a sense of knowing and control, or what. But it’s rarely ever correct – at least correct enough to really be correct. All it takes is just a couple of minutes and a couple of simple questions and there are usually plenty of holes in the over simplified assumptions that are made about generations. They usually turn out to not correct. Yet these assumptions persist. Why? The only answer I come back to is that they are easy.

I know I’m guilty of pointing generational fingers too. It’s easy after all. Just like I said. And yet, when I really take just a few moments to think through what I’m accusing any generation of, I can so very easily find exceptions – I can name people. And not just one or two people, but plenty of people. That, right there should kill whatever it is that I’m lazily accusing a generation of. Oh how easy it is to fall for the trap. Lord forgive me!

So instead of point generational fingers, I’d like to take a moment and offer generation uplifting moments and gratitudes. Things that I’m grateful for from each generation. And forgive me right now if I don’t name each generation correctly, I’m doing the best I can.

The Silent Generation – You all are incredible. You put up with everyone else. You’ve seen so much change over the course of your life. You’ve survived. You’ve survived wars, economic disaster, changes in society, technological changes, and more. You amaze me. Thank you for sharing your stories about your incredible lives with us.

The Baby Boomers – You’ve done it all. And you keep going. You are the generation that pushed for social change, which made major improvements in people’s lives – improvements that would not have happened otherwise. You pushed technological changes that impacted society for the better too. Thank you for moving society forward.

Generation X – We’re supposedly the forgotten ones. The reality is we’ve been working behind the scenes all along. Making things run in the midst of chaos. We’re the non-anxious presence in the midst of the storms of life because that’s what we’ve been training for our whole lives. This is the generation that links between the analog and the digital to very easily, that is at home in change – over and over and over again, constantly. Thank you for being comfortable with the only thing that is consistent – change. And thank you for not resisting it.

Millennials – You are the young adults now. And you are loaded with debt. But you are being smart about it, and taking criticism from your older peers. I don’t blame you one bit. You have energy and your strength is that you seek to be connected and in relationship. You aren’t interested in doing it yourself. Why do it yourself, when you can be connected to others and it can be a win-win? Makes sense to me. Thank you for seeing the interconnectedness of people – a much healthier way to exist in the world.

Generation Z – You young ones are learning. You are seeing the challenges of the Millennials and are making shifts in how you handles finances and interconnectivity. You adapt and learn quickly. That is a gift that is incredible. Thank you for being adaptable.

Generation Alpha – You are the youngest here. The possibilities are endless for you as you are still figuring our who you are. Thank you for not fitting into a mold.

What are you thankful for from each generation? It easy to point a finger at generations and blame and scapegoat them. It’s easy to rip them apart. But how do we really benefit from such things? We still have to live with the different generations. Isn’t it better to see how we can learn from each other, and benefit each other? We’re stuck with one another – might as well figure out how to live well together. It starts by seeing something good in one another.

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