What is the generation gap?
The generation gap is a very new thing in the world. Just half a century ago, nobody had ever even heard the term generation gap. And man has been here for thousands of years. But no society, no culture, no civilization was bothered with the generation gap. So, a few things have to be understood: how it came into existence, what it is, and what its final implications are.
In the past, by the age of six or seven at the most, children used to follow their fathers’ professions, whatever it was, and howsoever little they could help…If the father was a carpenter, the boy would try to bring wood, to help him in his own little way. And this was the only way that was available for the child to learn.
Always the older generation was the wiser generation. Just being old was enough to be wise, because knowing came only through one door, and that was experience. And experience needs time. Obviously the children were so new they did not have enough time to compete with the older generation. The older generation knew much more about everything – it had lived longer. That was the only measurement.
Those who had lived long became more and more respected because they were more experienced. They knew more things than others. This created the phenomenon of respect for the old. So whatever the older people were saying was bound to be right. There was no hesitation, there was no question, there was no doubt in the minds of the younger people. They believed in the older generation’s religion, they believed in the older generation’s superstitions, they believed in everything that the older generation was handing over to them.
The generation gap was not there, the generations were overlapping. The older generation, before retiring, prepared the newer generation to take over the work. So there was an overlapping time of twenty years, thirty years, in which the younger generation was working under the older generation. And the older generation had all the power, all the prestige, and it molded the new generation according to its own ideals, morality, manners, etiquette.
There was no opportunity for the youth to declare their individuality. They were part and parcel of the older generation. They had come out of the womb of the mother, but they never came out of the womb of the older generation. By the time the older generation was retiring, becoming very old or dying, they became individuals, but by that time they themselves were old. And they had to take care of the new generation that had come into being. So it was a very deeply connected world.