We are born into a generation that defines who we are more than we can imagine. Our generation wants to separate itself from the previous one and set a new tone for the world. In the process, it forms certain tastes, values, and ways of thinking that we as an individual internalize. As we get older, this generational values and ideas tend to close us off from other points of view, constraining our mind. Our task is to understand as deeply as possible this powerful influence on who we are and how we see the world. Knowing in depth the spirit of our generation and the times we live in, we will be better able to exploit the zeitgeist (the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time). We will be one to anticipate and set the trends that our generation hungers for. We will free our mind from the mental constraints placed on us by our generation, and we will become more of the individuals we imagine ourselves to be, with all the power that freedom will bring us.
In our first years of life we are sponges, absorbing deeply the energy, style, and ideas of our parents and teachers. Our minds are supremely open at this moment, and because of this our experiences are more intense and bound with strong emotions.
Then when we reach our teen years or perhaps earlier, we become aware that we are part of a generation of young people (focusing more on those around our age) with whom we can identify. In these years, we inevitably go through a period of rebellion, struggling to find our own identity, separate from our parents. This makes us deeply attuned to appearances – to styles and fashions.
As we become more aware of what is going on in the world, we often come to see the ideas and values of our parents as not fitting very well our own experience of reality. What they have told us or tough does not seem so relevant, and we hunger for ideas that are more related to our youthful experience.
When we reach our twenties and into our thirties, we enter a new phase of life and experience a shift. Now we are in a position to assume some power, to actually alter this world according to our own values and ideals. We inevitably clash with older generations. Many of them often view us as immature, unsophisticated, soft, undisciplined.
As we enter our forties and fifties and midlife and assume many of the leadership positions in society, we begin to take notice of a younger generation that is fighting for its own power and positions. Its members are now judging us and finding our own style and ideas rather irrelevant. An we begin to judge them in return as immature, unsophisticated, soft etc. And we might begin to entertain the notion that the world is heading downhill fast.
When we judge in this way, we are not aware that we are reacting according to a pattern that has existed for at least three thousand years. (There is an inscription on a Babylonian clay tablet that dates from around 1000 BC that reads, “Today’s youth is rotten, evil, godless and lazy. It will never be able to preserve our culture.”