By Fr. Roy Cimagala
WE HAVE to be more sensitive to this aspect of our life these days. With the current pace and widening diversity of development, we need to be truly skilful in handling the intricate and more felt requirements of inter-generational integration.
We cannot help but deepen our respective generational specializations of interest, in all their social and cultural varieties. I suppose this is how things go. We even have to foster the legitimate differences. But we need to learn how to form one organic whole, since in the end we all are one human family.
For example, in any diocesan clergy gathering that I attend, I can’t fail to notice the spontaneous groupings that appear, formed more by generational factors than by any other element. The young congregate among themselves, the seniors keep to themselves.
There are exceptions, of course. But they are more amusing than anything. Like, I met a retired Monsignor, approaching 80, so techie he could shame many younger ones with his knowledge and skill of the modern gadgets. He even used some technical lingo not yet in my vocabulary.
Where there is more unity and harmony in one group, say in a parish, there’s a lot of good that can be done. In contrast, where there is an infestation of envy and quarreling, many things get wasted.
In the place where I’m staying at present, we are just 10 residents—3 priests and 7 lay professionals—but I readily see the differences and feel the normal tension that goes with them, something that needs to be managed well.
At 57, I’m the eldest of the group, followed by a 55-year-old priest who was a former engineer. The rest are in their thirties. And our director is the youngest at 24 years of age. One is a university professor, the others are almost all engineers and architects, working in different schools and offices.
In our daily get-togethers, especially the ones after dinner, I can’t help but feel at the same time happy, excited and challenged by the rich mix of topics that get into our conversations.
I learn a lot from them, especially when they talk about new developments in their profession, people they meet and do business with, and the plans and projects they handle.
I just hope they also learn from me, since I too give a generous share of my views. But it gratifies me no end to see how everyone tries to go out of their own selves to engage everybody else in hearty exchanges, with refined efforts to adapt and please others manifest in a discreet and natural way.
I could see the mutual complementation taking place among ourselves, in an atmosphere of cheerful family life. Each one contributes something, everyone listens. Many times, I say a quiet prayer of thanksgiving for all this, a real blessing.
I suppose this is part of the secret to achieving a kind of inter-generational integration among all of us in society. We need to forget ourselves more and just think of the others, eager to serve and to please others.
And this can always be done, because it always starts with small, normal and ordinary things we are supposed to do with one another. We have to be nice, even affectionate, develop a keen, sincere interest in the others, in what they do and even in their concerns.
With little goodwill that we try to nurture and grow, a lot of good is produced, benefiting everyone. We have to learn to go beyond our natural differences, our understandable likes and dislikes, to be able to enter smoothly into the lives of others.
We need to learn to disregard irritating details, and to keep rectifying our intentions and purifying our memory, since anything can dirty them anytime even within a span of a minute.
We are all human, it’s understood, but we too are capable of rising high above our purely human conditions to meet the standards of real charity. We have to be quick to understand and forgive. We have to be very careful with our tendency to judge.
In my years of talking with people, I accomplish more by listening and understanding and encouraging than by making suggestions. Often the people themselves discover what they need to do.
I find this an effective way to handle inter-generational differences.