Wisdom of the Threshold.
I had a recent conversation with someone one-third my age who was angry at Boomers like me for screwing up the world. While being cordial to me, she used all kinds of stereotypes to describe my generation, much like how many people my age typecast Gen Z.
I guess we all do it. But what if we’ve come to the end of the generational alphabet with Gen Z? What if we tabled defining people by generations from here forward? After all, this is just one more artificial social construct that divides people instead of unifying us. I got a lovely taste of that unification across stages of life when AY Young, one of our recent Activists in Residence, was riffing with Paul Hawken, 45 years AY’s senior, here on the MEA Baja campus. They were both focused on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Shortly after my conversation with that Gen Zer, I listened to Michael Meade’s recent Living Myth podcast, which had the same title as this post. He says, “As everything seems to teeter on the edge of destruction or else on the verge of transformation, meaningful change does not come from a social agreement, an ideology, or a belief system. Rather, it comes from awakenings of the heart and soul in individual lives...The sense of identity that we need in order to tolerate the great tensions and pressures of contemporary life is not a ‘social identity’ (like your generation) or some kind of collective abstraction. What we are looking for, what humans have always been seeking for, is the precise and unique identity that was written on the walls of our souls before we were born.”
When enough people find their way, young people’s genius and older people’s vision create powerful alchemy that can solve global problems. Meade speaks about the elder as accepting the presence of death but understanding that life continues for those younger. It is their compassion that prioritizes solutions that will sustain future generations.
I may be a Boomer, and you might be an Xer, even if you’re just three years younger than me. The truth is, I probably have more in common with you than I do the early Boomers like Paul Hawken, who I love but is fifteen years older than me. In short, the artificial naming of generations is a distraction when we’re all on the same threshold of transformation.
That’s what deserves our attention.