An older man speaking to younger men.
What you do for us
So why do we need young men? Well, they fight our wars, seed the next generation, do the grunt work of building an economy, and are our professional athletes.
But beyond capitalizing on their young, strong bodies, why do we need young men?
We need them because they are our future. They, and the young women they will marry and raise children with, bring the hope of a better future. As with every previous generation, they are dealing with the sins of their preceding generations. They are cleaning up our messes and building new systems that are sustainable. In their innocence and naiveté, their courage to try something new inspires us. They push against the established ways, and that keeps us changing and growing. Their commitment to having fun reminds us to have some of our own fun.
There’s a lot of talk about how young men are immature. But guess what? That’s often our projection on to them about how we haven’t grown up. A man who did not live the life he wanted to live (maybe because he believed he had no choice) has a difficult time understanding the struggle a man goes through attempting to discover his own path. Others imposed control on him, so he imposes control on the younger generation.
We need you
I recently saw yet another book about how young men are not growing up these days. As an older man, I want to acknowledge young men. We need you. We can never fully appreciate what you bring to all of us. Nor do we acknowledge the sacrifices you make, often with your life to fight our wars. What greater gift is there to give than your commitment and your life to a country and way of life you have yet to fully experience?
You are teaching us to communicate in different ways. Your social media is changing the world – bringing down dictators, electing new leaders and starting new dialogues. You are making the rest of us run to keep up with your capacity to change on the move.
You are what we wanted, but not how we envisioned. We Baby Boomers wanted our kids to have more than we had, be smarter than we were, be free to create a better world than we had… well we are getting that. But we want to tell you how to do all this. Fortunately, you are doing it your own messy way.
Your push back is good for all of us. Boomers have forgotten how we pushed back. What the hell did we expect? We are a generation of rebels who raised the next generation of radicals. You might not be demonstrating in the streets, but you are instigating change.
Keep it up.
What we older guys can do
First, we can acknowledge and thank you as we grow up ourselves. Then we can roll up our sleeves to help you. You know what needs to happen. We need to listen and assist. Once we chill out, we can collaborate. As self-righteous as we might be, we do know a few things, the best coming from our battles to grow up.
The power we fought against is now ours! As we remember what we fought for, we can team up with you to work on what needs to happen now.
We can tell you that a lot of what makes you crazy is not you, your generation or even society. It’s just biological, sociological and psychological patterns repeating themselves once again. If we would own up to our projections of how we live our missed youth through you, we could be more present with you. We could then help you be more graceful with your mistakes than we were with ours. We can reassure you that you will—and need to—make your own mistakes. It’s a critical part of the rites of passage to maturing.
How we know we have succeed
When you young men are leading us older guys, it means we succeeded. When you are producing the change we all need, we have succeeded.
Let us support you in your passion. That passion will not only change the planet, it will heal us. We will remember what it was like to care more about life than the bottom-line.