Taking the long view – returning hope to our interpretation of the data – is not exclusively the property of the marginalized, who do not have the privilege of expecting immediate improvement. It also can belong to those who have already walked a long way.
I am richly gifted with the friendships of a number of people who are as much as a generation older than me – many (but not all) of whom are men. In the last few years, I have made some attempt to cultivate friendships with younger people. I do this partly out of self-interest (everything else being equal, my older friends will not be around to attend my funeral), but partly out of … well, I guess it’s still self-interest.
Because there is something beautiful and important about friendship that crosses generations, where different qualities of energy and different types of wisdom can be transmitted back and forth across the decades.
In a culture that compresses time into smaller and smaller packages, and where elder wisdom and history are largely discounted, generational wisdom is at least an opportunity to remind ourselves, collectively, that, while some of what is unfolding is “unprecedented,” there are other ways in which we have been here before.
That could be grounds for cynicism or hope – depending on the “here” – but it is certainly a way to recall a longer time frame. When we feel the weight of history pressing down on us, broadening the base across the generations that are still here distributes the load, hopefully making it easier to carry together.
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