Every Generation Works Toward Progress
Every generation works toward progress that following generations eventually view as normal – just look at the telephone. My grandparents had party lines. My parents had cordless phones. And we now use phones that fit in our back pockets. That cell phone technology began a century ago, if not more. Progress builds on the past, with hope for the future … and is often taken for granted in the present.
Two thoughts led me to this observation. First, at the time of writing this, I am looking forward to Memorial Day weekend, a time to reflect on those that served and have passed away. Second, I’m thinking about how advanced our society has become in so many “basic” ways; to think about and recognize the level of leadership, organization and labor that has occurred to get a glass of milk to my child’s breakfast table is astonishing. Generations before us created the normalcy of the cereal we eat, the coffee we drink, the clothes we wear.
Typically, with an introduction like that I would start down the path of gratitude and greater awareness, but I wonder – what are we leading or doing today that is important, but will tomorrow become just another stone in the foundation of progress? Do we recognize and appreciate that we are paving the way to progress on stones already laid before us?
I like to think that my mother and father went to work with the same (or possibly higher) level of motivation and consciousness that I do every day – a feeling of making a difference and the hope for meaningful contribution. But other than that type of reflection, did their efforts, and the efforts of others in their generation, make an impact? Of course they did – they contributed to the stones in the foundation of progress for you and I to continue to build upon. “On the shoulders of giants” we set our vision. Those leaders that came before us – some historically recognized and others unsung – built the platforms from which we build, too.
So maybe I am headed to gratitude after all: gratitude for you, those that came before, and those that will come after. However, before gratitude must come awareness. My request to you is to take a moment after reading this and jot down a list of those you are grateful for – those who came before you and those with you now. If you have young people in your life, please take a moment and share your list and stories with them. You are feeding the future by what you do today – showing the next generation how to appreciate and then build on the progress of those who came before.