Lets get practical. What exactly do these generations look like? How do they operate, and how do they interact with each other?
We’ll start with Socrates… he seems fairly original.
1. The Pessimist Generation
Socrates was the great inquisitor. Not much fun at a party, but great at The Symposium. “Death may be the greatest of all human blessings“, ” “The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be“.
Philosophically Socrates was the father of the pessimists, a Skeptic. More importantly he was the original skeptic.
The pessimist generation alive today we call the Silent generation, born 1929-1946. Those still alive are in the last season of their lives. This is the generation born during the great depression and World War II. The Pessimist generation is always born in some kind ofhuman crisis and grow up believing that the worst is most probable. pessimism can look very noble and pragmatic, even righteous, but don’t be fooled. Faith for the worst is not faith at all.
Very important to note is that a new Pessimist generation is currently in development. Children born from 2008 onward are growing up under its influence.
Isn’t it interesting that when we look at this picture in the light of a future generation (particularly one that includes our children and grandchildren) we start to form some sort of denial: “This is not a crisis,” “My kid’s not a pessimist.” and so on.
It does not help to redefine the generational cycle to fit our sentimental values. It does help to teach our children how to rise above their propensities, armed with the truth of their realities and perceptions and ours, but more importantly armed with the truth of scripture!
Christians are created new so that we can stand out like stars against the dark sky of our generation, and so bring a piece of God’s light into the chaos on earth, knowing full well that one day all will be soaked in His splendor, and darkness will have no hiding place, let alone influence.
Daniel’s Picture of the pessimistic generation (Daniel 7):
“The first was like a lion and had eagles’ wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it.”
The symbolism in Daniel’s picture is richest when compared with the other pictures, and with the rest of Daniel’s revelation. This is a picture of potential wasted. As I said, a pessimist generation is born in the midst of some kind of human crisis; those who created the crisis are usually in denial about the crisis and so they pin huge expectations on this generation who don’t have the confidence or resources their parents had. So they fail, and a rift forms between them and their parent generations.
The American soldiers in the Korean war are a prime example.
This generation learns quickly, and wrongly, that resources are not just limited, they are scarce; that risk is an evil, and that you should trust no one.
Do not let this happen in your home, in your church. The challenges and opportunities that children face today are nothing like the ones you faced growing up! Do not exasperate them by assuming that they have it easy while you had it hard.
The biblical stance is always further away from any of the four generation’s worldviews than they are from each other. The Gospel suggests circumspection and wisdom but with great, even lavish generosity with possessions, love, and faith.