The Good Ancestor

“The older I get I realize my mom was right, but I just didn’t like her tone.” When I saw this post doing rounds on social media a while ago, I called to mind the old adage loosely translated as follows: “Giving birth isn’t a problem; the real deal is raising up a child.”

From an early age, our parents and guardians made an effort to diligently instruct us in the way they knew best. To many of us, their counsel might have sounded like primitive discourses not in sync with 21st-century realities. We might have groaned because we always felt ‘misunderstood’ or worse couldn’t even entertain their company in the house for virtually all conversations were laden with innumerable ‘dont’s’.

However, fast-forward twenty-plus years, it is slowly dawning upon us that they were right all along. The rigor and work ethic exemplified in their own lives which we emulated partly contributes to our ascendancy across the corporate, business, and social spaces. The morals they so vehemently sought to inculcate have sustained us this far. In fact, we’ve practically witnessed the effects of deviance in the lives of our childhood friends, siblings, or relatives. Indeed, as we grow older, we come to the realization that our caregivers desired nothing but the best for us.

But one may rightly pause to pose the question: What made our parents and guardians wise and greatly discerning? Renowned scholar Adam Grant recently articulated the answer: “Wisdom doesn’t come from experience. It comes from reflecting on experience. Between ages 25 and 75, the correlation between age and wisdom is zero. Gaining insight and perspective is not about the number of years you’ve lived. It’s about the number of lessons you’ve learned.” Truth is, not only did our ‘old folks’ live long enough but also made it a habit to reflect on lessons learned across their lives. Yes, they might have lived in an era totally different from ours, but they garnered timeless real-life lessons which transcend the cumulative advances that our current world enjoys. 

What can millennials and Gen Z learn from this? One, is the affirmation that your voice and input matter regardless of how old you are. No one has the right to discriminate against you solely because of your age. Indeed, as the cliché puts it, ‘it’s just but a number.’ You have something to offer to the corporate boards, religious congregations, and social circles as long as you make the most of the experiences in your short life. This means volunteering when needed, taking on responsibilities beyond your capabilities even leadership opportunities. Unequivocally, this will help you to grow while also learning from those who’ve walked this road before us.

Two, is to keep in mind that youth is not the stage of life when indolence and recklessness are the order of the day. Or as I have written before in this column, it is not a time domain to hearken to the mass media’s “popular chant with a heightening crescendo and a deceptive melody namely Y.O.L.O (You Only Live Once).” A chant which, “echoes in a dizzying rhythm.. one that lacks urgency, is an enemy of brilliancy and ultimately leads to redundancy. Like a lullaby, it serenades many young people into the abyss of indifference.”

As our parent’s generation slowly takes the bow, sad as it is, I am convinced that they do so somehow satisfied with their lifework. The baton is now in our hands; the ball is now in our court. In centuries to come, when we are also gone, our descendants will refer to us as ancestors. As the great medical researcher Jonas Salk posed, let this be your challenge this week and beyond: “The most important question we must ask ourselves is, ‘Are we being good ancestors?’”

Cheers, good people to a week and lifetime full of deep reflection.


6 thoughts on “The Good Ancestor

  1. 𝑽𝒆𝒓𝒚 𝒔𝒊𝒈𝒏𝒊𝒇𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒏𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒍𝒂𝒕𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒅𝒂𝒚 𝒈𝒆𝒏𝒆𝒓𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏


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