Tuesday, March 18, 2014

When Generational Gaps Become the Difference

Last Saturday I attended a local show choir competition. A few of our youth group kids were performing and since this would be their final local performance I thought it would be fun to go just to cheer them on.

As I sat and watched several groups perform I noticed what our society doesn't always see. I saw teens that had to of put in hours and hours of hard work and dedication to put on a show. I saw teens that were passionate and excited about life, fully using their talents and gifts. I saw teens working together as a team.

Our society doesn't always see in young people what I saw that afternoon. In fact, adults don't always see young people at all. They build up walls so they don't have to see. They make excuses for why they don't need to be near teens and younger adults. Sometimes adults even build walls so high they become stereotypes and prejudices in our minds. So teens today either feel ignored or misunderstood. This creates divisiveness and furthers generational gaps. This can have very long-lasting and negative consequences.

Youth today receive many negative messages because of these walls. Sometimes they are told they are materialistic if they spend money on clothing or fun. If they use smart phones, social media, and computers they are told they should be less reliant on technology. When they participate in sports or non-school related activities they are often told they are selfish because generations past worked labor heavy jobs or fought wars.

You hear it often, an adult blaming a younger generation or pointing out negative things about young people these days. Not all adults do this. But enough of society does that it becomes the message teens today hear. This is not the message our future leaders need.

I think younger generations need encouragement and support. Generations are supposed to be different. Our generational differences mean we are human. We are evolving and redefining what life is constantly through relationships. I like to think that there is much to be learned for BOTH adults and youth from each other.

We can only learn from each other when we make an effort to build up relationships instead if walls.

Building a relationship starts with seeing. It starts by making observations with an open mind. It starts with presence.  Only when we make ourselves fully present do we become able too see a person. This true in all relationships.

That is where we really understand each other. Understanding our own shared humanity makes differences insignificant. The world is not black and white but all the colors of the rainbow inbetween that fill our lives with vibrant colors and real diversity.

Youth today are amazing. They bring so many positive things to this world.  Just like the show choir groups I saw, youth today are passionate about living and willing to work hard to follow their dreams. This is something to be celebrated and supported.

Future generations need praise and they need the presence of older generations in their lives. It is relationships between generations that will cultivate understanding and respect. When we promote this all generations become beneficiaries of a better world. It is respecting each other that makes all the difference.

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