Exploring the historically vital role of the gap generation

The Baby Boomers and Millennials have declared all-out war on each other. For almost a decade, Boomers have been calling Millennials pathetic, entitled snowflakes. They constantly make jokes about their continued reliance on their parents. But in 2019 the Millennials finally found a comeback that stung the boomers.

OK Boomer.

This viral phrase was the millennials way of dismissing the older generation. It’s their way of blaming society’s problems on the Baby Boomer generation.

But neither are fair assessments. Millennials are admittedly late bloomers, but there is real promise with them, and they are just getting started.

  • They have broken the spell of greed that has been prominent in America since the 1950s. They know that money isn’t everything.
  • They are willing to put their time and money where their mouth is, they volunteer and get involved locally and abroad.

I have found millennials to be great partners in ministry when appropriately encouraged and motivated.

Boomers aren’t perfect. We are now paying the price for some of their choices and activism. But remember:

  • It was the boomers that gave us the civil rights movement.
  • They eradicated some of the most deadly diseases through science and vaccines.
  • We can thank the boomers for defeating communism, opening doors for women in the workplace and giving better lives to disabled people.
  • They have also given us some of the best music and film of the twentieth century.

They admittedly started a lot that they didn’t finish, but they left the completion up to us.

Gen Xers have stepped aside (in typical Xer fashion), letting these two mega-generations make fools of themselves and each other. As they duke it out for the world to see, We smirk and roll our eyes.

Frankly, we Xers snickered at the boomers endless jokes about Millennials. But we also belly-laughed when the “OK boomer” meme went viral. We understand both sides. We know the frustrations and the pride that fuels them.

That is why Generation X is the most important generation at this time in history.

They are what I call the GAP generation. They stand in the middle of two generations that can’t seem to understand each other. The gap generation translates between one generation and the other so that the two can understand and appreciate each other.

I am a typical Xer. I am cynical about institutions. I brush off social rules. I have entrepreneurial tendencies and the capacity to affect change, but I can be disaffected and individualistic when I’m annoyed. I prefer to do things on my own terms.

But my parents are boomers. And to be honest, I get them. I can’t entirely agree with everything their generation says, but I understand their perspective. They taught me about hard work. They taught me to be careful with money. I can thank the boomers in my life for my fierce independence & self-confidence. They showed me how to reach my goals through focus and discipline.

On the other hand, many of my friends and employees are Millennials. I get them too. We like some of the same music. We aren’t offended by words like “suck” or “crap.” We share a disdain for organized religion and government.

Millennials inspire me with their desire to wave goodbye to the American dream and get out there and change the world. Admittedly some of them only talk about it, but a large number are out here doing it.

We Xers share characteristics with both Boomers and Millennials, and we appreciate them both for what they are, even when they can’t appreciate each other. So, that is why I think that Gen X’s response is critical right now.

We have the opportunity to bridge the gap between these two warring generations and help them to communicate and work together. We haven’t been doing it, and it shows.

We don’t really care, but if we don’t start, things will get worse, and the gap will continue to widen. If that happens, everybody loses.

So, I’m calling all Xers to action. We are the GAP generation. The world needs us to bridge the Gap.

We have benefitted from the Older generation. They were/are our mentors, our teachers and our parents. They have made us who we are today. We owe much of our success to them. It’s time for us to help our millennial friends to appreciate their contributions.

We have also benefitted from our younger Millennial friends. They have been our workmates, employees, apprentices, and friends. They have inspired us to use our influence to better the world by making a personal (not just monetary) investment. Their altruism and activism may be naïve sometimes, but it comes from an honest desire to make a difference.

It’s time for us to help our boomer friends to understand and appreciate these millennials. They deserve our help.

If you are a Boomer: Let an Xer introduce you to an amazing Millennial.

If you are a Millennial: Let an Xer share with you the many things that Boomers have taught them.

If you are an Xer: Bridge the gap. Change the world by being a peacemaker.

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