Friday, January 05, 2018

Generational Segregation

Generational Segregation

A few years ago, I was having lunch with a friend in a well-known restaurant. I looked around and noticed that we were the youngest people there. The next day I was having lunch with another friend in another restaurant and realized that we were the oldest people at that place. I hadn't realized until that week how segregated by age our lives have become.

A few generations ago, in a more agrarian and less specialized society, generations often worked together in the fields or in the shops. Young people learned from their elders and older people benefited from the enthusiasm and energy of younger people. Today older people are often unwilling or unable to share their years of wisdom, and all too often younger people do not seek it out, or discount the idea that they may have much to share.

Since I have become aware of this situation, I have made a concerted effort not become one of the "old-gray-beards" that sit around and complain about everything. I started reading books written by younger authors and subscribed to magazines that are clearly aimed at millennials.

We later changed churches to a congregation with attendees with an average age at least twenty-five years younger than our previous church. This means making friends and developing strong relationships with people much younger than we are is far easier than before.

This has been extremely encouraging.The generation of people born between 1978 and 1998 are some of the best yet. Not only are they comfortable with technology (it is normal to them and not novel like it is to me), but they are highly energetic and capable leaders. They value relationships and see kindness as important in all areas of life.

There is great value in maintaining long-term relationships with friends and co-workers, and family we have enjoyed for many years.There is, however, a need to recognize the value in crossing age barriers that our culture wants to build around us to experience life at its best, with all age groups represented for all that they can add to our life.

I just want to live long enough to see what happens next.

Jim Mathis

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

World History and Western Movement

The study of world history reveals an interesting pattern. The center of thought, creativity, innovation, and understanding is slowly moving west.

Starting about 1,000 years ago, China was the center of innovation. The Song Dynasty Chinese invented paper, paper money, gunpowder, a process for making fine porcelain that will still call “China,” and a host of other everyday things.

Slowly the center of creativity moved to the Arab world. The Arabs wrote the first medical textbooks after getting paper making from the Chinese. They developed higher mathematics. An Arab named al Jebra invented a system of math based on balance and equations that was named after him: “algebra.” We get our modern numerals and numbering system from them.

Eventually, the center of culture shifted westward again to Italy with people like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. The Medici family invented the modern banking system. Further west and a hundred years saw the invention of the printing press in Western Europe and artists like Beethoven, Bach, and Brahms; musical instruments like the piano and organ and painters like Rembrandt came along and theologians like Martin Luther. 
Still later, Great Britain became the heart of the industrial revolution with the invention of the steam engine, railroads and mass production. The British Empire spanned the globe due their economic strength.

By the twentieth century it was the United States’ turn with advances in electric lighting and electronic communications. The US invented Jazz and Rock and Roll and forged ahead in space travel. Artists like Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and Andy Warhol thrived. Advances in civil rights and education made the twentieth century the Golden Age for the United States.

In the twenty-first century the US is slowly turning its back on education and creativity. Intellectuals are called elitist or nerds, education and the arts are being marginalized, and innovation is slowing to a halt.

Meanwhile the center for learning and creativity continues to move west with China, Japan, and South Korea once again emerging as the world leaders in education, manufacturing, and design. If the thousand-year-old pattern continues, the Far East will dominate world thinking for another hundred years or so.