Friday, February 10, 2006

The march of culture

Today is tomorrow's yesterday.

Each day human culture grows a new skin.
New music,
new clothes,
new words,
new ideas,
new identities.

Youth are always the vanguard.
Their clothes, hair and tattoos body piercings
revolt the older generation.

But it has always been thus.

In my generation
it was ducktails and pompadours,
penny loafers, saddle shoes and poodle skirts,
big hair, collars turned up,
taps on shoes,
black shoes with white socks.

Today it's hip-hop and house music.
In my day it was Bill Haley, Chuck Berry, Elvis and Jimmy Reed.
Each in their own way offended the parental generation.
New ways of talking constantly evolve and perplex the older generation.
In my day it was "cool and hip;"
today it's "Whassup" and others I don't even know
because I'm not privy to those secrets
and my own children are approaching middle age themselves.

I realize I'm now a part of the older generation,
even though I haven't lost my sense of rebellion at the Establishment.
That's one thing my generation did right.
We rebelled at civil rights injustices, promoted equality for women
and forced a reluctant nation
to confront the awful fact that Vietnam
was an unjust and unwinnable war.

Sound familiar?

But this isn't a political rant;
it's about the constancy of social change.

However, it's easy to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
As opaque as the exterior of each generation may appear to its parents,
we're all still the same.
Young people are still searching for their own identity,
determined to break free from the old mores of their parents
as their parents struggle to understand them.

But remember, all parents were once children themselves,
buffeted by the winds of change in their own way.
As my generation struggled with the Draft,
My parents' generation struggled with the Great Depression
and World War II.

These forces shape the generations,
as the generations in turn shape those forces.

Maybe what the older generation can offer is perspective.
We've seen it all come and go before.
We've rebelled, been rebuffed and have also succeeded.
We've been alive long enough to witness the turning of the Wheel,
whereas our younger friends may still be caught up in the moment.

This is how Wisdom is gained.
All carve the furrows of experience
into our souls,
allowing them to fill with knowledge
that can ripen into Wisdom
given the perspective of time
and reflection.

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