The other side of the generation gap

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Those were the days my friend

We thought they’d never end

We’d sing and dance forever and a day

We’d live the life we choose

We’d fight and never lose

Those were the days, oh yes those were the days

          – words by Gene Raskin

One of our readers pointed out in a comment about yesterday’s Catch that the new “OK boomer” saying is just a timeless reaction of young people to the nostalgia and condescension of the older generation. It happens with every generation. Grandparents pine for the old days when they were young and they decry the way things are, blaming everything on the current younger generation. While the young people try to grapple with current realities and consider their grandparents too old and out of touch to bother with.

Just think about how boomers were viewed by the older generation when they were young. They dressed in silly clothes, their hair was too long and unkept, they smoked too much dope, they were aimless, they didn’t support their country in the Vietnam war, their music was trash … and on it goes. Now listen to those very same boomers today: “Kids today have got their noses in their cell phones, they talk with their thumbs, they’ve bought all the conspiracy theories about the planet, they dress in silly clothes, they vape too much, they are aimless, and their music is trash. It isn’t even music. Listen to our ‘70s music; now that’s real music” … and on it goes. No wonder “OK boomer” resonates with them. It’s just the same thing all over again. They are basically resigning themselves to the fact that boomers are never going to change. They’re too old. Just say “OK boomer” and relegate them to background noise. Don’t even try to communicate.

We called this the generation gap, and the thing we decried when we were young, we have let slip in under us. We’re just on the other end of it now.

Is this what you want if you’re a boomer? Shall we just buy the “OK boomer” thing and check out? Really, we’re not going to be around much longer anyway. The world has gotten much too complicated. Leave it to them to figure it out and go play golf.

I’m thinking of a couple that was on the other end of the generation gap when I was in my early twenties. They didn’t check out. They checked in. They saw what was coming. They invested in me and my music. They put me up in their home. There was no gap that I was aware of. They were not singing, “Those were the days my friend,” they were singing, “These are the days my friend. This is the moment. We are here for such a time as this.”

Which do you want to be? An OK boomer fading into the background, or a supporting element to the next thing the Holy Spirit is up to in the world? Do you want to ride into the sunset or be there at the dawn of something new? Do you want to criticize the kids or listen to them and come alongside them? Let’s face it — it’s their world now; it’s not our’s anymore anyway.

My friends on the other end of the generation gap when I was a twentysomething proved you don’t have to give in. You don’t have to be an OK boomer, you can be a boomer who is OK. It won’t be easy. You’ll have to listen and learn, and just when you think you’ve figured out Facebook and Twitter, you’ll find out the kids have all left for Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Yes you can, if you’re the old dog. Come on boomers. We’ve got to wake up and find out that those weren’t the days. These are the days. Now is the day. Now is the day of salvation.

(Thanks to John whose comment inspired today’s Catch.)

About the Catch Ministry

There is no way we could have anticipated the things that are actually happening among us. But this is who we have become. Cultivating intergenerational relationships is one of the most important ways in which The Catch Ministry is developing a flourishing faith in both young and old. This means changing the metaphor from simply passing the baton to the next generation to a more functional, biblical picture of the body — that is, the entire community of faith, across the entire lifespan, working together to fulfill God’s purposes.

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8 Responses to The other side of the generation gap

  1. Gary Mintchell says:

    You are right—generalities work…until they don’t. I got into computer technology in the late 70s. Even today as I write about the latest technologies as I hit my 70s, most people think I’m still in my mid-50s. I interact mainly with people from mid-30s to 60 every day. Keeps me young—and open to a diversity of views. I think that’s cool.

    I am dismayed when some of my interactions with my age-peers reveal that attitude decried by the younger people. Boomers are known (and have been since the early 70s) as selfish, spoiled. I have tried to not be that guy. Fortunately, there are many like me. Thanks for your meditations.

  2. Alma Siemens says:

    I observed long ago that the “good old days” were not as wonderful as people remembered them. I love the energy and excitement that characterizes the younger people with whom I associate. I look fondly back to some aspects of the Jesus People days and long for the new things that appear to be developing, the future in the heart of the Father that “wants to happen”.

  3. Linn says:

    I am a 62-year old boomer who is still teaching and busy with my church’s Spanish congregation and ESL program. I love to work with young people. I learn new things from them (usually about tech), and they value my experience with children and cross-cultural folks. Just like when I was young, we generalize way too much about the generations before and after us. When I was a young Christian, several older people invested in me. I will always be grateful.

  4. peter leenheer says:

    I agree with the three replies above. My birthday is this November 10th and will turn 75. Heard a sermon in church which encouraged seniors to be a blessing. That seemed like a great idea. So every chance I get, I tell my family I love them.
    I work with children from 6-12 in Sunday school telling them Bible stories. You might say that gives me pastor’s hours ie. you work on the weekends. We also have a program in our church with 7and 8th graders, I teach there as well. My attempts to make the gospel impact their lives is successful, thanks to the Holy Spirit who constantly gives me object lessons that amaze me,ie. tell the story of Job as a homeless person pushing a shopping cart with all his worldly belongings.

    The point is this interaction allows me to be totally encouraging to every young person of any age. They blossom when you do that. It is a way of telling them that you love them. Once you do that the age difference seems to evaporate. It is a blessing to them and also to me (I forget all my ailments and physical and mental problems and just enjoy their company. It also energizes me.)

    To those of you who are negative. Some things just don’t change. Just recently talked to some young people who thought the world today was not a place to bring kids into. I told them 50 years ago when I got married those sentiments were everywhere as well.

    So Boomers be a blessing!!!

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