Bridging divides

April 6, 2023

Divides in ideologies and beliefs separate today’s generations. (Juliana Shin (’23))

There’s a saying that “the only constant is change”: time changes, society changes, populations change, individuals change. Popularized ideologies and accepted conventions shift throughout time, but the effects of these changes are not created equal among different generations. As time progresses, older populations often remain stagnant — fixed in the views they were taught, closing themselves off to change. New generations emerge in a changing world, while old generations are stuck in the very world that needed changing.

Evidently, there remains a vast gap between different generations, one that is only expected to widen as more years pass. Yet, we will always be interconnected in some way. Approaching differences without comparison (“younger kids have it easier”) and contempt (“ok boomer”), but rather with mutual open-mindedness and empathy, can allow generations to connect with each other with understanding.

“I can’t speak for everybody, but I can just say [you can] love someone who doesn’t think the same way as you as long as they’re willing to try to listen and try to understand,” said Robinson.

She encourages students to have those tough conversations with their loved ones, even if they’re uncomfortable. Because even when religious, political, and overall ideological differences about identity or society as a whole can divide, they can also serve as a stepping stone for understanding.

Despite divides in values and beliefs, many East students feel that their family accepts them for who they are. (Gia Gupta (’24))

“[My mother and I] have these very long car ride conversations about my friends’ pronouns and she takes a second and she thinks about it, and that’s what matters.”

Whether it’s because of these long car rides or interactions in the workplace or because we sit down at the same dinner table each night, generations find themselves coming together. And as we sit down, we carry with all of us unique values and beliefs, structured largely by the times we’ve experienced. Yet, when those fade away, universally human values and emotions are left behind, the values that are the bridge from one to another– love, family, hope, and all of the in between.

Time changes, but these core connections don’t have to. Sometimes you just have to extend your hand with the understanding that even with generations removed, the values that have stood the test of time in bringing humankind forward — love, family, hope, and kindness — will continue to bridge it together.

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