Generational Change: Fundamental to the Human Story

My comments are about human beings and the passage of time, which brings about generational change. On these pages, I shall not and never will become embroiled in the intellectual nonsense of definitions of men and women.

Reluctantly or otherwise, one generation of older, experienced humans must give way to the next generation of young, intellectually vigorous but inexperienced humans.

This can be a prickly experience for the older generation when it need not be!

Different cultures of the human race have very different ways of marking this change. Some quite ordinary and some requiring incredible discipline and courage.

For example, we can look at the young Masai men of Kenya. In the past, for them to pass through the tribal portals to manhood/adulthood, they were required to kill a lion with their own spear, on their own! A task that requires much discipline and courage, plus a great deal of listening to advice from the tribal elders, who have already done it. If they fail, they most likely die of their injuries, which was accepted as survival of the fittest. This ritual is no longer practised by the Masai.

Young Inuit men must sit silently, patiently, for hours on ice flows, waiting for the chance to kill a sea lion.

Throughout Third World countries, passage for males to adulthood and thus, change of responsibility, is based upon physical prowess accompanied by discipline and courage.

In the First World, our world, things are a bit different.

Imagine giving young Damian a spear and telling him not to come back until he has killed a crocodile!

I mean, no one is allowed to kill a crocodile unless it is eating you…even then, you will need plenty of paperwork to keep the shiny bums happy!

In our world, we have allowed academia, the media and several other preposterous drongos to define our social structure and our generations.

We have, languishing in the reflected light of the social science beacons, a number of categories of humans.

They are…

The Silent Generation who fought their way through World War II. Before that, they saw a global depression and a flu pandemic. They built the foundations of our freedoms and our lifestyle, but most of them are now nonagenarians, so their opinions don't count for much. Not in the intellectual badlands of academia and the media anyway!

Then there are the Baby Boomers. 

Depending upon which perch you are roosted , the Baby Boomers have actually pillaged, plundered, voted, stole, and tricked everyone by stealing their wealth and keeping it to themselves.

The other view is that Baby Boomers were lucky.  

They had no choice over the timing of their birth. They saw an opportunity and worked bloody hard to make their way in a world that was ready to reward people who believed in what they did, paid their taxes, kept a lawful society and built communities based upon mateship and respect.

I shall leave you to determine which view attracts you!

Following close upon the heels of the ‘Boomers’ is the mob known as ‘Generation X’.

The current bosses, prime of life politicians, and professionals who collectively demand and get whatever they want. ‘Generation X’ claim to live in the shadow of the ‘Boomer’ - but they don't!

They are in charge of the place. They make the decisions, distribute the assets, and take responsibility for how the whole place works.

If you like, they are the ‘Boris Johnson’ lot…and I am quoting Libby Purves from The Australian and The Times.

A broad assessment concludes that Generation X does it pretty well.

If we stop, for a moment, on the high ground and look back down the dusty track from which we have come, we can see the throbbing mass of the ‘Millennials’ weaving their way forward and behind them comes an entirely new spectacle – ‘Generation Z’!

‘Generation Z’ are in their early twenties and they have their own view on how things should be and how things should work.

This generation has no comprehension of life without smartphones and accepts that WhatsApp is something old people use! I am paraphrasing Libby Purves from the Australian and the Times, again!

There are no more digital labels left after Generation Z which will pose a problem for the academic labelling team, but that will not be our problem.

As previously mentioned, most Third World countries/societies have ‘boys and men’, ‘girls and women’ and a precise ritual of passage that determines who is actually who.

In our Judeo/Christian society, we have never had those passage rituals. Sure there used to be debutante balls, where young women ‘came out’ into society.  Young males had less clearly defined moments. 

Drinking alcohol until they were legless seemed to hold favour for young men becoming ‘a man’ in some quarters. A somewhat hollow arrangement best describes that behaviour.

Graduating from secondary school into the workforce was a defining moment for young men, as was age.

Depending upon various prevailing Government regulations, such as compulsory military service for young men, could undoubtedly be a defining moment.  Perhaps even obtaining a driver's licence for both males and females determined adulthood.

For both males and females, reaching the age of ‘twenty-one’ in our society, during the early 1900s and probably up to the 1960’s, was the defining moment for becoming an adult by law but it is now diluted and not as important.

There were no precise moments of moving from boys to men, or girls to women, in our world, unlike our Third World cousins. Shifting responsibility and assuming adult leadership seemed to occur more like the process of osmosis.

But it happened, and it seemed to be orderly. Responsibility shifted, leadership assumed, and life's ancient rhythms throbbed softly onwards.

So.

We are now in the middle of the year 2022.

Our society is riven by shouty mobs on social media, but the application of commonsense will deal with that.

We have become hopelessly entangled in our ability to express ourselves clearly over fundamental matters of biology.  Younger people, Generation Zedders, have a pragmatic view of these matters. They all know who they are and are not fussed by new definitions, and neither should the older generations.

Older generations have been around long enough to know that the world balances itself.  There is always a ‘square up’!

Trying to prevent a younger generation from expressing itself in terms that are different from the current generation's understanding is much like standing on the beach and yelling at the waves to stop it, or they will go blind!

Generation Z is here.  They are not going away. They are ours.  We need them just as they need us.

And although it does not seem like it at times, we still hold all the cards. It is up to us to make sure that change occurs sensibly.

Human beings like to be a part of a proud, functional team. Perhaps some of the tensions result from young people sensing that they are not!

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