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Intergenerational equity

Father's Day. For me, my first thought is backward-looking, that is, I think of my father. Even though he's gone 35 years, I believe that it's human nature to think of one's own parent first in response to that term, regardless of age, time or relationship.

I believe that is because we all know ourselves first as a child. Even if our father or mother is already gone by the time we have awareness of our relationship to others, we learn first that we are a child, and someone else is responsible for our welfare, our parenting, our view of the world.

This got me thinking. I have repeated what others have said before -- that many of "our" ideas aren't really our own at all but that they came from our parents and grandparents and culture. Religion, politics, ideas about how to be in this world and how to relate to others -- at first, those all come from our family of origin. So, question that. Question your own beliefs. Times change. They changed when your grandparents had your parents. They changed when your parents had you. They changed again. Have you simply, carefully, thoughtfully asked yourself why you believe what you believe?

I also wonder at the strength of connection we feel to our ancestors -- our people or clan, if you will -- and our ancestral heritage. It's been 15 years since the completion of the human genome project which has led to amazing technology from forensic dna testing to Genetically speaking, we humans are less diverse than chimpanzees. Still, we stubbornly cling to our being "Irish" or "Guatemalan" or "Chinese" and the ways of our culture. The truth is, it matters far less than you might think. Or than your father might think.

So, as you think about Father's Day (or Mother's Day, or Grandparent's Day), I encourage you to look in two directions --backward and forward. And then look within. And live YOUR life with compassion, with clarity, with room for making changes as you go forward.

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