Generational Kaizen: How do We Compare?
You know when I consider the size of shoes our generation has had to fill, I think to myself, “those are some big shoes!” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and VS Naipaul are just a few of the greats who have significantly affected society.
The question remains though, have we honoured our predecessor’s lives by improving upon all that they have done? According to my father, “Young people these days not easy at all”. Everything from financial planning, to health and employment, how we view God, the way we ‘straighten out our ‘pickneys’, what we define as a valid relationship, our non-gender roles in society, openly declaring who we are, and, yes damn it, what we stand for, has been reshaped and redefined. While some older heads may have decided we don’t do things ‘better’, we’ll agree to disagree that perhaps, we just do things differently.
Hot food morning, noon and night
Do you remember hearing your mother wake up in the wee hours of the morning to start preparations for a hot and heavy breakfast, lunch and dinner? While that show of dedication is quite admirable, nowadays us girls have bigger fish to fry like heading up companies at an age when our grandmother’s role was keeping a clean house and making sure there was hot food on the table. Thankfully, the caveman notion that “a woman’s place is in the kitchen” is also outdated. I mow the lawn in my yard and my neighbour’s husband is a stay-at-home dad. Can you imagine hearing your father back in the day say that he was a stay-at-home dad? His boys would ah say he “wearin’ de panty” in de family! Our generation is no longer defined or limited by our gender, and we’ve worked very hard to gain respect at home and on the job.
I good for the next 40 years
As one friend put it, “Forty years in the same job? Yuh mus’ be mad!”
This generation is definitely not satisfied with the prospect of being tied to any job for the next 40 years of their lives, and why should we? Technological advancements make it possible for us to launch our business ideas or pursue artistic talents on websites like YouTube, Facebook and eBay in a very cost-effective way. As a result, we are less hesitant to take the necessary risks to improve our well-being and our dreams are not so far-fetched as they would have been some 50 years ago. Consider the billion-dollar mogul, Martha Stewart. It almost seems nonsensical being able to turn your passion for food, crafts, gardening and exceptional homemaking into a financial empire, but that is exactly what she did. Lately, my favourite is Antoine Dodson and the iTunes ‘Bed Intruder’ rendition. I don’t even know if Mr. Dodson can sing, but somehow the idea that he was able to turn a bad situation into something good seems pretty cool. Regardless of how people may view him, that video went viral, and as a result not only did he gain fame, but also a bit of fortune and was thus able to move his family into a more secure establishment.
Older heads may argue that our generation has lost ‘staying power’ when it comes to holding down a job, but the truth is that with a little creativity, business sense and an Internet connection, job creation is limitless. Those days of being tied down to one job until retirement are long gone and fortunately today, we can run many jobs of our own.
Would you like to dance?
The first time I heard an older women refer to sex as ‘having relations’, it took me a minute to comprehend what she meant. Back then women would broach the topic as though they were speaking of the plague, all hush-hush and shameful. Women were meant to breed, and breeding and rearing kids is what they did.
These days we don’t skirt the issue at all – from Lady Shabba’s ‘Ram Ram’ to Spread Pal Crew’s ‘Talkari’, our generation finds nothing obscene about the ‘horizontal mambo’ (or ‘vertical samba’ for that matter). While some say we are sexually liberated, others argue that this generation is simply promiscuous. Although this leap in sexual independence may have made us more endangered than our parents, thankfully today we can speak frankly and openly about issues like the prevention of and protection from sexually transmitted diseases, birth control, teen pregnancy and what we like or don’t like under the covers. So while you get your dance on… my only advice is… doh break yuh heel!
Parents today are determined to do better by their children. I remember being terrified to go to school because my teacher would hit me with a guava whip, when I couldn’t give the right answer to one of her questions. While I’m not saying that every elder implements corporal punishment irresponsibly, the fact is there are times when those methods go wrong and convey to a child that violence is the only way to resolve issues. People would argue that parents back then knew how to keep children in check, but I have to ask, while that may have been so, did it make it right?
Does this have something to do with why our generation is so hell bent on being better parents? I think some of those old scars have a little something to do with that. Bottom line is, when you know better, you do better, and even though children at times bring out the beast in us, trying to ‘whip them into order’ only serves to demean who they are and lower their self esteem. This generation understands that our kiddos deserve guidance and patience, as well as a firm and loving hand.
This generation will make the change!
Our predecessors will always stand before us in their glory, and be honoured for their accomplishments, struggles and sacrifices. No longer do we have to sit quietly by and contend with racial, class or gender inequalities, which is not to say they still don’t exist; but at least we don’t have to ‘put-up and shut-up’ about it. We’ve been able to build upon their hopes and dreams by electing the first Black president of the United States and the first female prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago; we’ve torn down the Berlin Wall, and found a vaccine for cervical cancer.
More than any other time in history, our generation is actively seeking ways to improve this planet by ‘going green’ and finding alternative sources of energy. We continue to make great strides in the fields of medicine and space exploration and with the growth in popularity of the Internet, an explosion of dreams have been realized. And let’s not forget Facebook… a revolutionary idea that has brought millions of people together in a way that would have been unimaginable some 50 years ago.
Our mentality and lifestyle may be different nowadays, but I think that each generation has tried to make improvements in its own way. Have we made improvements? I’d say in many ways we have. That’s what generations do from time to time… it can’t be helped. As the clock keeps on ticking, we keep on moving… forward that is. Ziggy Marley’s song “Generation’ is a good reminder that we all have purpose in life and the ability to continue filling those big shoes.
Image courtesy iStockphoto.com