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Generations and change

I’ve been skeptical about how people describe generations. There are baby-boomers, generation x-y-z, millenials, all of that. I’m skeptical now of me being skeptical.

Few weeks ago I’ve listened to an interview with one of the Ukrainian oligarchs (we do have a few), and his answers got me thinking. When asked, (all paraphrased) “So can we change anything in this country for the better? Like so it is, for example, in Switzerland, where most of the people abide by the law, benefit from taxes, business is done transparently etc.”, he answered: “Why do we need to change it? We don’t need to change anything. Is it normal for you (talking to the interviewer) and me to bring a box of chocolates when seeing a doctor, an officer and a lawyer? It is normal, it is expected. I can’t change people. Even more, I think changing people means telling them what to do, and that’s immoral. So no, we can’t change it and we shouldn’t. The new generation will have their own rules and that’s when it might change.”

This can be perceived as him resisting the change because if there will be systems in place that will make his not-so-clean big business mechanisms impossible, then he’ll loose. Put it bluntly, “I’ll milk that cow as long as I can, and what happens after me is your problem, kids.” One can argue that he has enough influence to bring reforms that will make average Misha’s life better.

I think he is right that it’s impossible to change the system. You have to replace it. Only so few people change their minds, and usually it happens because of a crisis in one’s life. If we want a sudden change, then we’ll have to bring a sudden crisis to many people at the same time, and that’s probably a nightmare — either a war, a recession, a revolution — some sort of cataclysm.

When new people (aka generation) come with a different mindset, because they lived their youth in a different zeitgeist, watched different movies and read different books, they will live differently. Do you have a TV, and did your grandparents have a TV? Every generation does the opposite of what their parents did, until they become just like their parents. Do you watch YouTube as much as your grandparents watched TV? I surely do.

It’s a good reminder not to be confident in the future based on the current state of the things. If Germany is the best country to live in at the moment (we can argue about that, and if you don’t agree you’re probably right, just let us have it as an example), it might be not the best place to live in 25 years. And if there’s a stereotype that East lacks creativity (I’ve heard it many times that West is the one that comes up with original ideas, and that East copies them), let’s live a few more decades and see who is better off — the ones who grew up in lavish societies where luxuries became necessities, or the ones who had to dream and work. Yeap, sounds pretty contrast, on purpose. Not blaming anyone — how can a child pick the environment it is born to?

If you’re feeling sad or mad — it’s fine. It’s a symptom that you’re afraid of that things will change, and that’s part of being a human and being afraid of death I guess. A symptom that we should expect the change and, as much as I don’t like this chiche, embrace it. That we shouldn’t hold too much to our past successes.

Last edited on May 5, 2019