■ 'THE GENERATION GA?"
A Quest Club Paper written by
The Reverend Richard G. Frazier,
Pastor, Trinity English Lutheran Church
Fort Wayne, Indiana
and read before the Club on February 12, 1971
Our society has a preoccupation with gapitis. It includes the
credibility, culture, communication, missile, power, credit, financial
and generation gaps. Long before there were any of these gaps, there
was a Delaware water Gap. God gave us that, but it is relatively small.
The great gaps are man-made.
What is a "Gap"? It is a space between, an absence. It separates
this from that, I from Thou.
"A generation is the space between father and son, the smallest
and greatest distance the universe knows. Of one blood and bone, they
are achingly alike; yet they can be galaxies apart."
The very word "Gap" has a strange power to intensify a problem it
purports to describe, to color it with emotion, and to create by its
very use an opposition more complete than was true prior to its use.
It has the danger that what before were alternatives, even radical differences, which might be resolved, become necessary contradictions, in
which one position must be true and the other false. This is one danger in using the word "Gap."
Perhaps a better descriptive word for the generations is "Alienation." The almost world-wide alienation of the young with its familiar
symbols - long hair, demonstrations, drugs, rhetoric and occasional
violence - has resulted in bewilderment if not alienation and anger
among many in the older generation.
For our purpose I define the generations as those under thirty and
those over forty. That suggests another gap between ages thirty and
forty and represents my generation. We were called the "silent generation." To both young and old today we may be almost invisible. To
be in your 30's is, by popular definition, to be in the middle, and for
better or worse, we occupy the middle ground between the alienated generations. One of our number, Frank Conroy, author of Stop-Time, writes.*
"We may be the only ones left in American society who can see what is
great and what is bull." And an editor of Time, also of our number,
suggests: "We are the only ones who understand both languages, the
only ones who can explain the young to the old and the old to the young.
Our job may be the most important job of all, that of translator."
That freight is too heavy for me to bear, but here is one of the "silent generation" who now attempts, however inadequately, to "translate."
I want first of all to describe ways of considering the youth cult;
second, attempt to summarize the influences upon young people; third,
to capsule what the generations are saying about each other; and finally, to offer some reflections to the question, "Can the Geritol Crowd
and the Pepsi Generation overcome their alienations and collaborate on
the real issues of life?"
Members of the Quest Club authorize the Allen County Public Library to digitize and publish past, present and future Quest Club papers for dissemination on the Allen County Public Library website (Board of Directors of Quest Club, Inc., Resolution of May 2010).