What a Millennial Can Learn From the Wisdom of the Older Generations

May 10, 2020

The Chinese virus crisis (COVID-19) has given us all more time with the stay-at-home orders in place nationwide. Thus, I decided to call my grandparents and ask what they thought about it. A pleasant conversation ensued in which they gave the wonderful advice to remain calm and trust in God.

Upon hanging up the phone, it struck me how the notion of the ‘wisdom of the older generations’ has a lot of truth in it. Unfortunately, we rely too much on technology during a crisis rather than the wise advice of elders. In times like these, America would benefit greatly if we lent an ear towards those who have been through tough times before.

What is Wisdom?

Understanding what wisdom is will help us see why it comes from virtuous elders. As author John Horvat II explains in his book Return to Order, “Wisdom is to know the highest cause of things.” German philosopher Josef Pieper further defines the term saying: “To ‘know the highest cause,’ then, does not mean to know the cause of some particular thing, but to know the cause of everything and of all things: it means to know the ‘whither’ and the ‘whence,’ the origin and the end, the plan and the structure, the framework and the meaning of reality.”

Wisdom of the Older Generation

Knowing the highest cause of things is often gained through experience. When elders give advice, do not write it off as outdated or useless. Realize they have made mistakes too. They have been through tougher times than we, such as the Great Depression, World War II and the Cold War. They erred and suffered, but they did not give up. They learned from their mistakes and kept moving forward. Thus, their advice has been distilled by failure after failure. They figured out what worked and what did not. Don’t waste the opportunity to tap into that knowledge.

Imagine a young man at college, for example, who wants to know more about socialism. Instead of going to his peers who have never lived under a socialist regime, he should ask someone who fled from postwar Eastern Europe, Cuba, or his uncle who fought in Vietnam. His great grandfather may have witnessed the horrors of Nazi Germany under National Socialism. He might ask his grandfather, who lived in fear during the Cold War what he thinks of socialism.

If the wisdom of the older generations was given more respect and attention, America would be one step closer to a more ordered society.



Previous post:

Next post: