This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

April 20, 2006 - generations need to talk

When I was growing up, there was a lot of talk about the "generation gap." Mainly, it was conflict between the GI generation and the Boomers -- the Veterans and the War Protesters. Nowadays, the conflict isn't quite so obvious.

But you know it's happened to you.

You're a Gen-Xer talking to a Baby Boomer, who is being so maddeningly circular that you have no idea what she is trying to tell you. Or you're a Boomer, wondering why the Gen-Xer doesn't seem to have any loyalty to the company.

You're a grandparent, a member of the "Greatest Generation," uneasily aware that all of the public institutions you fought to preserve and build upon, are being dismantled before your eyes.

You're a member of the "Silent" generation, the generation that never had a president -- but did have Martin Luther King, Jr. -- and whose dreams of social justice seem submerged by our culture's consumerism.

Or you're a Millennial -- whose lives of technically assisted multitasking (iPod, cell phone, Instant Messaging) and overscheduled days seem utterly new.

The generation gap is alive and well, gumming up communications within your business, flummoxing family discussions, and leading to mixed messages, hurt feelings, and all-too-frequent dysfunction.

It doesn't have to be like that. "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it," said Santayana. When it comes to generations, each believes that it is unique and alone. And each is mistaken.

In fact, there is a rhythm and a logic to the generational cycle. Once discovered, it enriches those encounters between the generations, and provides a strong connection to our national history.

On May 5, 2006, I'm going to be giving a public lecture on this topic. I call it, "Four Generations: How to Talk ... and to Listen ... to Everybody." The talk will be held at the new Sanctuary of the Christ Episcopal Church, 615 4th Street, Castle Rock, from 7-9 p.m. There is a modest donation at the door -- $10 for one person, $15 for two -- which goes to defray the construction costs of the church. (I'm not a member of that church, but I do admire this beautiful new addition to the architecture and cultural life of the town.)

After my talk, which I hope to keep lively with audience interaction (questions and comments welcome), we'll have a short break for wine and snacks.

The second hour of the evening will be devoted to live music. The theme is simple: what are some of the distinctive songs of each generation throughout American history?

My research into this has been fascinating. The songs most associated with a generation were most frequently written by .... the PREVIOUS generation.

When you look at a list of those songs that most influenced you as you were growing up, you realize that you discovered them in the first 15-20 years of your life. There are few successful musicians who are 15-20 years old, so you are of necessity listening to your predecessors in time, who somehow had the ability to capture the emerging spirit of the culture.

Our musical performances will feature a number of talented locals, of several generations.

So if you're interested in learning more about the people dear to you, and in exploring the cultural contributions of the generations, do consider bringing a friend or family member to the evening.

It should give you something to talk about.

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