I have been spending some time looking into and at the children's charity sector. I have been looking at our (grown ups) relationship with them (children), which is in effect, our relationship with ourselves, our former selves.
We tend to tell ourselves two overlapping stories about our children. One is that 'they are our future' and the other is that 'they have rights'.
If you look at these stories and feel inside - we have set up a kind of transaction - an us and them. In the first we look at them taking over from us and carrying our torch on into our future...(inspiring a generation comes to mind) in the second we stand up for them turning ourselves into a kind of hero figure - with duties and responsibilities to them.
This construct feels outmoded when children understand technology better than we do (check out the access to understanding we will have with big data in the future) - when children have different horizons to ours and when the world needs a liberal dose of fresh radical thinking...
As we age we gain experience and hopefully wisdom. The wiser ones are beginning to realise that in the new world we don't have all the answers, there are things we do not know at all. Perhaps it is right to now re-think our social contract with our young people?
Perhaps we can explore the new terrain with them, perhaps we can be less afraid they will 'come to nothing', perhaps we can look at the new work arenas - now the old ones are drying up so rapidly for them...perhaps we can live 'together' in the world that is appearing around us. Perhaps we can 'share' in this miraculous time and learn in tandem. Perhaps we can look at the world through younger eyes?
The same is true of our relationship with the older generation - they again are not a burden to be borne but rather a joy to behold. We are ageing differently now. We are living differently in old age now. What can this new extended lifespan create and illuminate?
We are experiencing something fundamentally different than any other human generation before us. We have more of a shared future - more of a genuine kinship with our former selves and our future selves - with our children and our elders...this is no longer a relay race but rather a marathon - where we spend far more time on the journey together supporting each other as we move through our experiences...
As we think differently about the world around us - so the world around us comes into our lives differently...it will not be easy to re-organise our collective stories - they are deep rooted - but one by one we can each begin to tell a different tale and imagine a different ending - perhaps one where we really do all live 'happily ever after...'
No harm in trying anyway.