“We are what they grow beyond.” ~ Yoda in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
“The young man pities his elder, fearing the day he, too, will join their ranks. The elderly man pities the younger generation, well-knowing the trials and tribulations that lie ahead of them.” ~ Lydia I Fisher
“America isn’t breaking apart at the seams. The American dream isn’t dying. Our new racial and ethnic complexion hasn’t triggered massive outbreaks of intolerance. Our generations aren’t at each other’s throats. They’re living more interdependently than at any time in recent memory, because that turns out to be a good coping strategy in hard times. Our nation faces huge challenges, no doubt. So do the rest of the world’s aging economic powers. If you had to pick a nation with the right stuff to ride out the coming demographic storm, you’d be crazy not to choose America, warts and all.” ~ Pew Research Center, The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown.
At the beginning of each new semester, I think anew about my students and what I will learn from them. Maybe it’s because I’m dedicated to life long learning that made me choose teaching as part of my career. My life is so much richer for the exchange of ideas that challenge my old ways of thinking and being and I’m grateful to meet new students each semester.
There are times when I feel angry and distressed when older people shake their heads and condemn the younger generations, or when the younger generations dismisses the contributions of those who came before them. The human race would never evolve if we had to begin all over again when a new generation emerges into the dominant positions as creators, leaders, inventors, and innovators. One generation must learn from the last and build on what they have contributed so that improvements can be made.
As I was preparing for my busy semester, I got to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi, for a second time. The first time I saw it, one quote stuck with me. It’s the one above by Yoda, “We are what they grow beyond.” I loved that statement. However, the second time through, I heard the second part of that quote, “and that is the pain (or maybe it was sorrow) we bear.” And I thought, “Wait what?” I don’t bear any burden if my students take something they’ve learned from me and use it to grow beyond my understanding or talents. That’s the joy and reward of teaching.
I’m not saying anything new when I state that we are in a time of great change and we have to rely upon one another even more than before, so when I found the above quote by the Pew Research Center, I rejoiced. I don’t want to tell my students or any of the younger generations that I’m smarter than they are. I want to learn from them and work with them to create a much more equitable, sustainable world in which to live. And I want to appreciate the many contributions of the generations that have gone before as well. Change is always disruptive, but in my mind, that’s a good thing. I’d get bored if my life was the same day after day with no hope for something new and exciting to look forward to. When the forces of change arrive, we get a chance to keep what works and throw out what no longer serves us. It’s a long process sometimes, but well worth the work.
I’m off to auditions for the play I’m directing, Measure for Measure and excited to hear what my students have to teach me about this play written so many centuries ago. It’s amazing that the works of Shakespeare contain so many ideas that apply to events today and give us clues about how to face our challenges.
Have a lovely weekend.
Thanks for reading, liking and commenting on my posts. I appreciate reading your take on what I’ve written.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.