Not by age but by capacity is wisdom acquired.
The generation gap wasn’t invented in the United States in the 1950s
and 1960s; as far as we can tell, it has existed as long as there have
been people. Some of the quotations we’ve used show that cross-
generational animosity was an issue at least as far back as 400
Because the generation gap is probably as old as humankind,
we won’t pretend to think that what we’ve said here is going to
completely retire it. We have tried to point out where the gap isn’t
as large as people think it is (at least in the United States—we can’t
speak confidently yet about the generation gap in other parts of
the world) and to show that conflicts at work arising from the gen-
eration gap are dwarfed by conflict that stems from other sources,
chief among them the desire to maintain or increase clout. And
that story too is as old as time.
There are always going to be conflicts. You’re going to see
younger and older people disagreeing, and these conflicts are
often going to continue to look as though they are caused by gen-
erational differences. But at least now you know that such funda-
mental differences aren’t really the cause of these problems; you
know that the people involved probably want similar things.
Knowing this, when you see a conflict that others identify as
being caused by the generation gap, you know that you need to
look deeper for the real causes of the conflict. Understanding its
Deal.c11 10/10/06 3:40 PM Page 210

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