Across the Generational Divide


Dear Editor: In response to Rebekah Percy’s article in your Jan/Feb 2021 issue, I will start by saying that every generation faces challenges which seem daunting. Future challenges, remaining to be withstood, will always look more daunting than past problems that have been resolved, even if they have only been resolved in ways that have kicked the can down the road.

The advice I would give myself if I were young would be to identify and pursue a livelihood doing something that I would find not unpleasant and that directly contributes to others’ well-being and survival. Tasks directly related to obtaining clean air and water, healthy food and comfy shelter, offer sustainable employment opportunities in many possible futures. Youth is a time to explore such options for a few years before choosing a long-term path.

Also, practicing utilitarian thrift is almost always easier than increasing income. Modest means are no embarrassment and no failure.

Victor Frankl offered us some very good advice: having a purpose in life is a reliable way to pursue happiness. Competing to achieve a heartfelt goal of one’s own is very different from competing with others in some kind of hierarchical rat-race. The latter does seem dismally discouraging and depressing.

While older Quakers may indeed protest a bit too much about their radical pasts, Quakers of all ages can set a good example by applying Friends’ processes to various situations in our lives. Since sustainability and eco-restoration are my purpose in life, my best suggestion for bringing together Quaker generations would be to combine wellth, skills, and energy in building eco-villages that will heal our broken systems for future security.

Do I crave connections with younger generations? No. I am an introvert and childless, and I have been “canceled” several times by youth in Quaker situations, due to my politically incorrect remarks. I tend to avoid people who guilt-trip me. But although I don’t crave such connections, I am nonetheless open to them.

          – Muriel Strand, Sacramento Friends Meeting (PacYM)

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