As children, we may have looked at our care-taking adults and thought nothing of it, they simply did all they did (work, family, community, interests, homeowner and life tasks) because that’s what they did. I remember coming home from school, doing homework, maybe going out to play with friends or on my own, having dinner and watching TV with my brother till bedtime. I also remember my mom coming home from work around the time I was playing and she would check the mail, wash dishes from earlier in the day, make dinner, clean up after dinner, get us to bed, make our lunches for tomorrow, hopeful have her own relaxing time with my dad, who also came home form work and had more work to do around the house, maintaining where we live to be safe and comfortable. Often times, I felt lonely and wishing for more time with my parents, but understanding the limited time they had. Waiting for weekends for soccer or basketball in the yard with dad and shopping or walking around the block with mom. Today, I wonder why and how we do these things we do, lacking connection, lacking community, busying ourselves to no end. The way my parents did is is not what today's people are wanting or needing.
Humans have this innate desire to reproduce, to create family and children; and with this often comes the desire to make life better for those who come after us. Even as members of a community without children of our own, it is hard to not think about the generation that follows and what we have left for them to inhere tint his world. The strange thing is, that now, in our current era, somehow, and for the first time in our existence, we have come to make life harder, rather than easier, for the generations that follow.
Young people today are facing increasing difficulty in moving into healthy adults. Our systems are not supporting us anymore. We are seeing closing of government systems, an increase in national debt, a significant decline in living standards and increased rates of unemployment. We are facing the reproductions of abusing the natural environment, climate change, increased human made and natural disasters, and the fragmentation and disconnection of people form others. We are seeing lives not only get harder but more unhappy, anxiety and depression reaching all time highs.
Life is getting harder.
And those who can best steer us into a new direction are exactly those we stigmatize: teens and elders. Both close to death in their own unique life phase way, actual or metaphorical. Our elders bring perspective of how life is meant to be lived, what they wish they spent more or less time doing, what they have come to understand as the most important elements of life. And our youth bring forward ideas of change, the life they dream of living. Both bring messages of how what is happening now, doesn’t work!
As adults, it is our job and privilege to listen to these messages, and invite in the new. It is our failure as adults to tell the youth and the elders they are wrong and this is the way things are, they have to “get real”. In saying this, we are closing off parts of ourselves as well as these essential parts of our community. If we really stop to feel this truth, how can we not feel sad?
Our youth are calling for a rite of passage! It is the purpose of our youth to do so! And the purpose of our adults to guide and invite this process, not ignore it and continue our business as usually, hoping they will join or someday understand this daily grind. When we hear them arguing every point, asking questions of why, feeling wildly uncomfortable inside and it coming out in behaviors that are hard to manage…then, we must listen, because they are giving us a clear message of “Now.” Now they are ready for change, for a passage to something new. There is wisdom in our youth. Internal and external youth, even the youth inside ever adult, that has yet to experience an initiation, are screaming out for change, screaming out to be heard by the community and recognized and invited in to share their gifts with the larger community.
The task is to face this ordeal head on, this discomfort, this call for change inside of each of us, this is a need for ourselves and the world we live in. When we meet it, fears and grief, joys and ideas and hopes, all of it is welcome in the realization of what we are capable of, only then can we offer the gift we are meant to offer to this world. Only then, can we come find a way to make life easier for the now and the generations to come.
So I ask you, are we making life harder by not listening? And, if so, what are we willing to do about it? Are we willing to listening to message of the generations before and behind us? Are we willing to step into a humanity wide rite of passage?
Oaks Counsel is inviting all generations to participate in being heard in order to step into change. Check out our offerings at programs and nature-based healing to move into wholeness and the next phase of your life.