Writing

Generation Gap

  • February 10, 2015

Thomas Slatin & Harvey Slatin - Chazy, NY

My father was 64 when I was born, and that in and of itself created perhaps the greatest generation gap I have ever encountered in my life. In some respects, by fathering a child so late in life, I may have skipped a generation.

Throughout my life, my father told me that everything in the world was always subject to change, and if anything could change, it would. My father looked down upon my generation and told me that with every new generation came a new set of challenges upon the generation before it. According to him, every generation would be, among other things, less respectful of their elders, much less productive, and far less responsible.

Somehow, he predicted the coming of the so-called generation me. A generation that believed that the world revolved around them. A generation that believed that the world owed them something. A generation that was indeed lazy, uninspired, egotistical, and borderline failure. A generation that, sadly, embodied every possible attribute that my father expected it would.

I was raised differently. My parents raised me to do good work, even if I wasn’t being paid or somehow compensated for it. My father used to tell me that you either do good work, or don’t do it at all. I was raised to believe that quality, doing the right thing, and personal responsibility and acceptance of others was most important. As time went on, these lessons became personal attributes, which became both a blessing and a curse.

At a young age, I was thrust into the world believing in fairness, equality, and caring about the feelings and needs of others. My depression came as a result of learning that not everything in the world was as my parents told me it would be. The world is full of unfairness, inequality, and fascism. The utopian society my parents made me believe in simply did not exist.

My father looked at life with pessimism. I couldn’t be sure exactly what it was, and at first, he wouldn’t tell me. He always said that there was something he needed to tell me. Something vitally important that hinged on the basis of the right timing. Something, he would say, that he claimed needed to be said before he passed away, but that day never came. He passed away days before he promised, once and for all that the time was right that he would tell me what he had waited so long to tell me.

The most important conversation was the one I never had with my father. There was an unpleasant feeling that came over me every time I brought up the topic. For the last few years of my fathers life, I would bring the topic up every now and again. It was almost as if my father was waiting for me to ask the right question of him, almost as if the right question would be the key to solving the seemingly unsolvable mystery.

The morning my father passed away I knew that I would never have the most important conversation with my father. Perhaps the conversation was not as important as he said it was, or maybe it was something simple that needed to be discussed. It may have been a question my father wanted to ask me; some facet of my life that was always a mystery to him, but I seriously doubt it. My parents were very much involved in my life, perhaps too much so, even when I was a full grown adult.

They say that sometimes things are better left unsaid. However, in this case, I may never know for sure.

Colophon
The images were taken from my family archives.

Asides
How Transcending Your Mind’s Limits Leads You To Creating The Life You Always Wanted | Harvey Slatin Radio Interview On WUOW | The Tapes | Audio Recording From November 4, 1986

(Visited 70 times, 1 visits today)
Advertisements

10 Comments on Generation Gap

  • Nicholas Zuckerman says:
    February 10, 2015 at 11:11 AM

    Nice piece Thomas. I would like to see you explore this topic further. I myself take extreme issue with the rhetoric about older generations being superior to younger ones. I just don’t understand how completely objective notions about work ethic and other unmeasurable concepts overshadows the rampant unchecked racism, sexism, homophobia and classism of older generations. I also think it’s interesting how most of the people from those generations that tout this philosophy are white middle to upper class individuals that did not have to endure the above adversity. It would be generous in my opinion to call all generations equally flawed. It’s also ironic and almost comical how someone could vilify a so called generation of “me” while having the extreme hubris to claim blanket superiority over millions upon millions of unique individuals. I’m not trying to be disrespectful to your dad, but I am just so offended by this mindset as I value my generation and think we have many great qualities.

    Reply

    • Thomas says:
      February 10, 2015 at 11:35 AM

      Hey Nick! Great to hear from you!

      I would like to see you explore this topic further.
      Good idea. I think that I will publish a follow-up post sometime in the near future.

      I myself take extreme issue with the rhetoric about older generations being superior to younger ones.
      My father had this view for as long as I knew him. In some respects, he was way off in his belief of superiority. However, by the looks of it, the current generation has lost a lot of respect, compassion, and empathy. Popularity and competition, it seems, has taken over and become the modern vogue.

      I just don’t understand how completely objective notions about work ethic and other unmeasurable concepts overshadows the rampant unchecked racism, sexism, homophobia and classism of older generations.
      Sadly, many of these notions exist even today. I am perhaps one of the most open minded and accepting people on the planet. My father, although accepting at this level, still had his reservations. He would often tell me that a lot of the differences were acceptable, specifically homosexuality, but completely unnecessary to discuss.

      It’s also ironic and almost comical how someone could vilify a so called generation of “me” while having the extreme hubris to claim blanket superiority over millions upon millions of unique individuals.
      I first heard of generation me on the Dr. Phil show. I don’t generally watch his show, in fact, I generally don’t watch television at all, but there was nothing else on at the time. To form a generalization about an entire generation based on the actions of a few is irresponsible and stupid.

      I’m not trying to be disrespectful to your dad, but I am just so offended by this mindset as I value my generation and think we have many great qualities.
      I completely agree, however his generation was so set in their ways, that nothing could change his mind.

      Reply

  • Kyle TheGman says:
    February 10, 2015 at 12:12 PM
    Kyle TheGman

    nice article. The photos at the end are priceless. I’m a little beach bum as well… well, not so little anymore.

    Reply

  • Addison Sullivan says:
    February 11, 2015 at 10:27 PM
    Addison Sullivan

    I loved that piece.

    Reply

  • Mitchell Goldman says:
    February 12, 2015 at 7:18 AM
    Mitchell Goldman

    Great photo Thomas!

    Reply

  • Dick Woodhouse says:
    February 12, 2015 at 1:02 PM
    Dick Woodhouse

    From the heart. You are indeed special as was your Dad, and as is your Mom. You did choose your parents well.

    Reply

  • Debra Strohl says:
    February 12, 2015 at 5:03 PM
    Debra Strohl

    What a beautiful article!

    Reply

  • Christopher Colt says:
    May 8, 2016 at 10:37 PM

    Hey Thomas,

    I can certainly identify with the generational thing. My pop was an older father too and I also came away quite naive in many ways that have caused me a lot of problems. But then, parenting is more an art then a science, so I have forgiven both my mom and dad for the things that they missed…

    On the topic of that conversation that you and Harvey never had….I can identify with that too. As you know, he was my Godfather, and he would do the same kind of thing with me. It uses to frustrate the hell out of me. He was so stubborn and uncompromising at times. It was as if he loved to see you squirm.

    But then now, I think he was just very insecure about being wrong, or perhaps misinforming you in some way that would lead you down the wrong path. I mean, after all, he was a rocket scientist. Right? He was involved in the development of the most destructive weapon mankind ever made…and used. Yikes! That’s a lot of responsibility. It alone could make you overly cautious or at the very least, hesitant in many ways…

    Whatever the case, I have come to see directly that there is always an undercurrent of uncertainty to life. It is a trick that consciousness plays on us all and we all must deal with it, each in our own way, in perpetuity. And I know that you dad, just by dint of the fact that he was human, struggled with it too…and I think that, combined with the weight of the responsibility of his involvement with the development of the atom bomb, shaped him in some powerful way that none of will ever really understand. After all, its not every day that we have to deal with the issues behind that kind of power…so he never could quite explain it to you even though he probably really wanted to…

    Reply

    • Thomas says:
      May 9, 2016 at 1:16 PM

      On the topic of that conversation that you and Harvey never had….I can identify with that too. As you know, he was my Godfather, and he would do the same kind of thing with me. It uses to frustrate the hell out of me. He was so stubborn and uncompromising at times. It was as if he loved to see you squirm.

      He did this to me often, especially the last few years of his life. My father would often say to me, “I’ll tell you what I need to… Tomorrow.” Then, tomorrow would come, and it would often reschedule to a later time. Unfortunately, he had postponed it far too long and he passed away without ever telling me. It sometimes makes me wonder what, exactly, it was that he wanted to tell me.

      He was involved in the development of the most destructive weapon mankind ever made…and used. Yikes! That’s a lot of responsibility.

      Yes, the Manhattan Project… He was proud of his work, yet at the same time, he had a lot of negativity and mixed feelings about the use of the atomic bomb, of which he helped to develop. He told me that he wished that it had never been developed, that it caused too much pain and destruction, yet at the same time, it was the one thing that put an end to WWII.

      After all, its not every day that we have to deal with the issues behind that kind of power…so he never could quite explain it to you even though he probably really wanted to…

      I could never imagine being given that amount of power and responsibility. I would feel uncomfortable even being the CEO of a major company because every decision I made would have a profound effect on a large number of people.

      Thanks for your comment! 🙂

      Reply

  • Pingback: Will The Memories Die? – TomSlatin.com

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: