“OLD IS GOLD, NEW IS BURNISHED GOLD & FUSION OF BOTH IS PLATINUM?”
Nowadays, a phrase is very often overheard in social circles, either as part of a plaintive or captious comment, sometimes, by the older generation i.e. septuagenarians and above, and, at other times, a caustic remark, by one of the younger generation.
Is the above a natural phenomenon that is part and parcel of the natural process of age-ing and maturity that brings a considerable change of mindset, life style and priorities in life ?
And if it is the latter, what can be the main ‘bones of contention’ that can create this gap? Let us look into this.
I know that there have been frequent instances of estranged relationships due to this ‘generation gap’, leave alone the other factors as may be.
Hence my reflections on this. ( It may be a bit too lengthy, but, please read through it; it is just a perspective and not a judgement; so no one, young or old, may take it personally please, as I am just ‘thinking aloud’ with all, with the simplest of intentions to be a mirroring-technique for all, including me. So please feel free to share your perceptions , and not judgements).
A general tendency of the older generation is to be consciously or unconsciously obsessed with ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ based on religious beliefs and practices of yore that have come down, as believed to have, from our ancestors – beliefs that have come as part of religion, for example, idol worship, and many such practices which, we expect the younger generation to follow, with unquestioned belief. So, it indicates our explicit or implicit conviction that whatever we do in terms of the above, is right, and any contradictory point of view of the youngsters, generally, is wrong.
And, the younger lot, as have been exposed to more of different cultures , and as having been brought up in a liberal environment from a very early age , either in our country with different cultures, or, as having been residents or citizens in different countries and different cultures, may have naturally taken to the life-styles and belief systems of their social circles, work circles, etc.
And they are more critical, may be in the right way, in adopting certain practices, that may have come down to them in the name of tradition. The spirit of enquiry, which every generation has had, is their birthright as well. So, they are not ready to accept and follow anything and everything their elders want them to follow, without a logical explanation.
But, there are many things, which, we have absorbed in our culture in the name of tradition, which, most of us cannot explain to them, for we have just, may be, blindly, adopted them, because our parents passed it on to us.
And, to add to it, admittedly, we, as elders, may directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously, tend to be a bit or too ‘preachy’ about everything that our youngsters disagree with us on. I mean, we may not be preachy in words, but may be in our meta-communication ,which can rub them on the wrong side. I think many a time, what we say, may be, at least, earnestly listened to by them , if we become aware of ‘how’ we put it across, and when to put it across. This is where, may be many of our generation may be lacking, in my view.
And, in the name of religion, we have integrated so many customs and religious rites in our culture, which give a stench of a biased, male chauvinistic society , where , the right to equality of women and girls, have been either totally suppressed or undermined by a community .
However, globalisation has brought about a welcome change in the mindsets of many of the old and the young alike, and expanded our horizon. Multiculturalism is the trend nowadays, which is indeed very good. Our society has become liberal and more broad-minded to a great extent, but, there are still some, who continue with these practices ,which infringe on human rights.
But it is really unfortunate that because of these factors, many of the younger generation have taken an extreme tendency to totally defy all our cultural practices as ‘ blind faith’ or a story of exploitation of naïve souls for vested interests by a biased society.
Some of the younger generation don’t even know many of the teachings for life that have come in the form of shlokas, mythological stories or stories about life of those who lived on this Earth like Lord Rama and Lord Krishna, which are put across to children in the form of attractive picture stories like Amar Chitra Katha.
Neither are they keen to know about them nor are they keen to retell these stories to their children. Superman, Aquaman and Batman are all wonderful creations but they don’t have to displace Rama, Krishna, Bal Hanuman, Ganesha to take their place in the young minds. Why can’t they co-exist?
I think because youngsters are fed up with how, for generations, many of us had been , and, may be, are, even now, ‘breathing down their necks’ with uncalled-for sermons of right and wrong, in the name of religion.
And earlier, all these stories of Rama, Krishna, Ganesha etc. were put across to the youngsters as a religious lesson. May be, the youngsters nowadays are very sceptical about anything and everything that comes in the name of religion. And spirituality and religion have been so mixed up, unawares, or, conveniently and consciously, may be, so, anything that comes in the name of spirituality , is outright branded by them as ‘bullshit’ in ‘trendy language’.
Those of the older generation tend to be a bit too finicky and too serious about their regimen of early to bed and early to rise, timely meals, and the type of food they eat. On the other hand, the youngsters have hectic work schedules.Their biological clock sets it own alarm for food, sleep and work etc. The younger generation are rather too flexible, or rather, negligent as to the above , and hence many of them land up with serious chronic health issues at too early an age.
I regret to say that this cultural upheaval is happening more or less only in the Hindu culture, may, be, because, it is the most ancient and so varied in belief systems and practices with due or undue importance, as may perceived, given to many Forms and Names , may be, too many rites and rituals and hence tend to be tedious, and too time-consuming.
In fact our generation, being on the threshold of transition, are, ourselves, sceptical about a few beliefs, as we are not sure, if all have come down from the Sages of Wisdom, or, some have been incorporated as part of it, conveniently, by different communities, at different times, as called for.
So neither the older generation or the younger generation are to blame for this.
In India, we, of the older generation , may be too expressive for others’ comfort, especially with children. We express our emotions too much. We meet people in restaurants, shopping malls, trains and flights, we become very friendly and we express it with hugs, especially with children. It is not a welcome practice in many other cultures. . I have learnt that we need to keep a restraint on our over-expression of emotions . We tend to encroach on others’ personal physical, mental and emotional space, which is not a good habit. It can alienate others instead of bringing them closer to us. I used to be too expressive earlier, but now, I am so, but only exclusively and consciously, with those who are similarly so.
It is okay if we greet children and talk to them and make friends with them in our environment, but, when we go to other countries, we need to be aware that we don’t do the same thing by over-expression. While in Rome be a Roman – rightly said, I mean – to an extent as needs to be for efficacious communication. Sobriety is the secret of effective communication in relationships with all, especially strangers.
Well, according to me, the above are all issues , which can, to a great extent be settled by , firstly, the awareness that, neither the older generation nor the younger ones are solely responsible for this ‘unnatural gap’. We are victims of the transition from an exclusive ‘Mass Consciousness’ to an. all-inclusive one, i.e. no culture will be recognised as an entity in itself; its all ONE WORLD ONE CULTURE – a matter of what needs to be absorbed into it and what should be done away with, rather than whose culture is it and why it is so!
Hence a major shift needs to happen, in the mindsets of the older generation, and, by a little more sensitivity on the part of the youngsters to the exclusive cultural roots which their elders, who had already crossed their prime before globalisation and multiculturalism brought in global cultural trends, and hence, had grown up and had got rooted in, may be, a strictly traditionally conservative society.
This is strictly applicable only to those of our generation, who had not been exposed to other cultures by travelling around and settling in and being citizens of other countries and other cultures. Some of us, have lived our lives only in one town, one state , all our lives and hence, may not have been exposed to the diverse cultural practices of our country.
The others are as unconventional, as inclusive as, or, may be, a little less than, the younger generation, due to the natural age-ing and experience factors.
I would also like to mention here that believing in and accepting all that the older generation says is another issue, but, it is unwarranted for youngsters to ridicule or disrespect the belief systems and practices that the older generation have grown up in , and, vice versa. I hope and pray that the younger generation doesn’t undermine our old cultural values and traditional practices altogether, as many of them may be doing now ( they may sift and sieve, which is fine) by branding them all as ‘nonsense’ with the same incredible speed and impatience with which they absorb the beliefs and practices of other cultures.
As I said earlier, this gap is the widest in the Hindu culture as it being the most ancient of all, may be, and , as it has been passed on, for, time immemorial.
But there is a ray of light.
All the spiritual organizations of India and all the Spiritual Masters are reaching out , not only to the youth in our country, but also to those in other countries. And, it gives us great hope when we witness the response of youth from across the globe to our spiritual practices such as yoga, pranayama and Sudarshan Kriya. This will not only help in building up a New India but go a long way to lay the foundations for a New Earth – people of all nations, all cultures, all FAITHS, living together bonded in multiculturalism and living in one identity as ONE WORLD, ONE FAMILY – VASUDEVA KUDUMBAKAM
The young call the age-ing , too old and outdated’ – the same young will become aged when their children grow up to call them and brand them, and both generations together, may continue to experience or create wider GAPS? I wonder.
It may not happen, for, they may not live together.
For, it happens generally only when we occupy one another’s personal space. Other than spouses and may be, live-in relationships as may be more in numbers, there may not be any example of a joint family or three generations living together under one roof.
The children will move away as soon as they come of age ( it is already happening) and live their own lives. The older lot will, either live in comfortable retirement homes ‘at home’ with their peers, or else, in a few cases , continue to live with their children, with both the generations still able to live happily under one roof.
I don’t think there are any ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’ vis-à-vis the older lot living their lives the way they want to, with those of the same age who they can interact with more, as they may have most interests in common.
I feel it is a deluded understanding of many of our older lot that all those old people who live in old age homes are unfortunate and have been neglected by their children, and that, all those who live with their children under one roof are very happy. Both these need not necessarily be inter-related. It can be a happy, comfortable mutual arrangement and it can be an equally good life for the older lot, may be, even better. It will be family ties and bonds and not family relationships and BONDAGE to create a GENERATION GAP.
May He guide us in bridging ‘the unnatural gap’ , the ‘mutually created gap’.