Friday, March 28, 2014

culture soup | a small idea from Raising Adults

If parents, teachers, mentors, coaches, employers, youth workers—all of us who nurture kids—learn to really, really listen,  those kids will tell us most of what we need to know to understand them. And raise them better.
What they’ll describe, and what we can see if we look hard enough, is the cultural soup we’re all in. It’s our soup in the sense that it’s derived from the distinctive flavors each living generation contributes to the mix…thus it’s everyone’s soup. You may like it or not; you may find it too salty for your taste, or too pungent. I haven’t bumped into many adults of my generation who think it’s too sweet.
Be that as it may. It’s not just our soup. It's created by all of us together...crowdsourced if anything ever was.
In my years as a youth worker, writer and visual storyteller I’ve had the good fortune to sample quite a mix of youth cultures across North America—from Florida to Alaska; Long Island to Long Beach; rich, poor, middle-class; majority, minority; mainstream, fringe—and for all the differences, I am struck by how much common experience there is across the board. I wouldn't call it a monoculture but the similarities between kids growing up in wildly different geographic, ethnic and socioeconomic settings; people who on the face of it appear to share little in common, is really something. There are massive forces at work, some hidden, some in plain sight. I think learning to understand and even appreciate that leads to a deeper, more generous appreciation of individuals who are both seasoned by and contribute to the the flavor of the current culture  soup.
Or not. Some adults are so uncomfortable with their offspring, they would just as soon skip a generation…or two. It’s shocking to me how often it’s turned that the question behind the questions I heard from someone in business or the Church (or both) was: Do you think we can survive if we skip a generation? Can we just ignore them and hope they’ll go away? 
To which my answer is: Believe me, ignore them and they will go away...from you at least.
— from Raising Adults

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