“Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” -George Orwell
There’s been a lot of generational divisiveness going around. A generation is all of the people born and living at about the same time, regarded collectively. In the US we’ve even named the generations: The Greatest Generation, The Boomers, The Gen-Xers and The Millennials. Unfortunately, we at times focus on comparing and contrasting their strengths and weaknesses versus looking at the contributions each generation has made to society.
I’m writing this on the last day of Black History Month. Although I believe that history is history and should be thoroughly and accurately passed down from generation to generation; this is the time of year that Carter G. Woodson proposed would focus the attention of the entire nation on the contributions of African-Americans to the flourishing of the Country. The world has now discovered through film the historical impact of the African-American female engineers and mathematicians who navigated flights for NASA through the movie Hidden Figures. We are all now realizing that many significant contributions have been overlooked if not deleted from the historical records and textbooks. Deletions that would enable us to see just how brilliant and resilient we have been in every generation.
As a Gen-Xer, I’m smack dab in the middle of the generational continuum. I’m old enough to remember a time when there were not personal computers, cell phones (we had rotary phones), seat belts, and microwave ovens. I’m young enough to now experience social media, watch Netflix and utilize Apple products. My grandparents were one generation removed from slavery. My adoptive mother was the first of our family to graduate college, and has lived through the depression, a world war, Jim Crow segregation, the civil rights and feminist movements, and the election and re-election of the first African-American President. I’ve been bussed to the other side of town for school, integrated segregated neighborhoods and been called the ’N-word’ – something some of my mentees have never experienced. I’ve been the youngest person on a leadership team and experienced the struggles of negative statements about “this generation…”
Now, at MORTAR, I’m the elder stateswoman amongst some of the most impressive and exceptional young leaders in the Nation. Gratefully there is no competition, only a mutual admiration society. My teammates at MORTAR are fascinating, intelligent, forward thinking and passionate leaders. Their commitment to creating future history now is as compelling as ours was decades ago. Our generations have moved the needle to this point and they have devoted their lives to taking things to the next level. I am honored that we value and cherish one another’s personal experiences. I hope that when you encounter a younger world-changer, you will speak life and encouragement to them. Our future history is secure and in good hands…and I’m glad.