27 Oct What old people are doing – condemning the new generation – is wrong. (OSHO)
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.
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.
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.
How did the generation gap come into being? It is dependent on many factors. Scientific progress has given people time for their children to be educated in the schools, colleges, universities. Now a new door has opened for learning. In the whole past there was only one possibility to learn and that was from the older generation. Now a new door has opened for learning, fast learning.
Experience moves at a very slow pace, but education depends on your intelligence. You don’t have to depend on the pace at which education is moving. And during these twenty-five years of education, you are no more under the control of your parents, of your society, of your priests.
In these twenty-five years you have no responsibility, you are not married. In the past, marriage used to happen too early.
In other words, what I want to say is that in the past there has never been anything like youth. From children people became adults. Youth was missing. Youth is a new phenomenon, the younger generation is a new phenomenon. It is a by-product of scientific progress. Scientific progress has given so much technology and children are allowed to have many years in the universities to learn.
Secondly, when there was no science — and it was not long ago, just three hundred years — nothing was changing. Everything was as it had always been. The bullock cart was there for centuries. It was still the only vehicle. So the older generation knew everything, because everything was old.
With scientific progress the world of great books has completely disappeared. And the progress is going faster and faster, so fast that scientists no longer write big books, out of fear that if you write a big book, by the time it is completed, it will be out of date; scientists are simply writing papers in the periodicals.
It was perfectly good for Charles Darwin to take thirty years to write a single book. Now it would simply be stupidity. By the time you are finished, all that you have written is wrong. Science has gone so far, and the speed of science is so great that you cannot write with the same speed.
And science has developed into such a huge tree, with so many branches, that now to call anyone just a scientist is not right. It does not give you the right definition. He may be a physicist, he may be a chemist, he may be a mathematician. And the branches go on dividing into new branches. Now there is a new chemistry which has its own independent world — biochemistry.
Mathematics is no longer just one science. The old mathematics which is used in the ordinary world is no longer relevant for nuclear physics. It needs a new mathematics. So there are new mathematicians. The theorems of Euclidean geometry are no more relevant; there is now opposing them a totally new science, non-Euclidean geometry, which does not believe in any definitions of Euclid. For two thousand years Euclid was valid.
For two thousand years Aristotle’s logic was the only logic. It is no more the case. There is non-Aristotelian logic, there is non-Euclidean geometry, and every day sciences go on growing into different dimensions. And each dimension is so vast that the man who knows nuclear physics may not be aware at all what chemistry is doing, or what is happening in the world of biology, or what is happening in the world of medical science. The scientist is no longer a man working alone, but only a specialist. Because of this specialization, things are moving very fast. Everybody has taken a small part and is developing it to its ultimate end.
When the student comes back home after five years in the university, he knows more than the older generation. That is the problem, that is what is creating the generation gap. To him even his own parents look foolish, out of date, knowing nothing. This has taken away the respect that was taken for granted in the past. You cannot respect someone who looks to you completely out of date, out of tune, who does not know what has happened in the last twenty-five years.
The growth and the pace of growth is such that what did not happen before in twenty-five centuries now happens in twenty-five years. Naturally, a tremendous gap between the older and the newer generation is bound to happen. It is inevitable. The newer generation knows more, for the first time in the history of man, than the older generation.
And this gap is widening. It has stopped the communication between the older generation and the newer generation, because conversation is so difficult. The parents have their own egos, they are not going to sit at the feet of their own children and learn from them. And the children have their own egos, they know more. Why should they sit at the feet of their parents and learn from them things which have proved to be completely wrong? They speak almost different languages.
And this is going to happen more and more because science is developing every day with greater speed in all dimensions.
Specialization is a new thing in the world. In the past, you used to have a family doctor. Now you cannot have one because there are all kinds of specialists. The family doctor used to treat you as a whole organism, but now you have been divided into parts, because each part is so detailed that a person goes on researching it his whole life, and yet he does not come to the end.
So there are specialists who will be only taking care of your eyes. To you eyes look small, but once you enter into the world of specialization, the eyes have their own whole world. It is not a small thing, it is a very complicated phenomenon. There is a specialist who understands the brain. There is the specialist who takes care of your skin. Dermatology in itself is such a big science that there is no time for the person to think of other things. Somebody takes care of your ears, somebody takes care of your tuberculosis, somebody takes care of your cancer.
You can’t have a single person taking care of you anymore, because there is no such thing as a physician, just purely a physician. In fact, there are only consultants who direct you … Their whole work is to direct you to the specialist you should see, because specialization has gone to such minute details that you need a consultant to decide to which specialist you should go.
And your body is no more taken as a whole organism, it has been dissected. Science dissects everything into segments, because each segment is so big that the whole body cannot be understood by one man alone. So when a student comes home, specializing in eyes, he is not going to listen to his father or mother about old recipes for any cure for the eyes. He knows so much more that they seem simply ignorant and their recipes simply foolish, superstitious.
The older generation will have to learn one thing: no more to expect respect. On the contrary, if you want to be still respected, give respect to your own children. This advice is meaningful only because of this generation gap. In the past it would have been meaningless. The older generation used to give love and the younger generation used to give respect. That was a settled thing for thousands of years.
Now everything is unsettled. It is a chaos. And because the older generation is not getting the respect, they are withdrawing their love. The whole communication, the old relationship, is on the rocks. The new generation is expected still to respect, to listen, to follow, which is impossible.
In fact, the older generation will have to listen now and will have to give respect to the new people. And only if the older generation is humble enough to give respect to their own children, will the children perhaps be able to give respect. There is no other possibility. All communication lines are broken, because they speak different languages. And it is not their fault, it is simply the situation.
“I never slept with a man before I slept with your father,” declares the stern mother to her wild daughter. “Will you be able to say the same thing to your daughter?”
“Yes,” replies the girl, “but not with such a straight face!”
“Just look at me!” declares old man Rubenstein. “I don’t smoke, drink or chase women, and tomorrow I will celebrate my eightieth birthday.”
“You will?” asked his son curiously. “How? You neither smoke, nor drink, nor chase women. How are you going to celebrate?”
All lines of communication are completely blocked, but what old people are doing — condemning the new generation — is wrong. I can see the reason why things have changed. The new generation is not responsible. It is not their crime. It is simply a totally different set of circumstances. And the older generation should show a little more understanding, a little more clarity, a little more readiness to listen to the new generation, because they are the future. In the past, the past used to rule the future. Now things are otherwise: the future is going to rule over everything.
The Journey of Being Human