This episode begins with a report on the effects of the climate crisis on young people throughout the world. The survey shows that youth find the future to be frightening, find the present to be full of heavy sadness and feel increasingly anxious.
Youth may carry the seeds of the future, but they also must suffer the troubles and burdens of the present moment in human culture. The combination of being alive at the end of an era and living when the earth itself is under threat, young people are older than they would otherwise be.
Whereas in traditional cultures, youth enter a rite of passage of some kind; young people now find themselves stepping into an existential gap that includes a desperate need for a reorientation of human culture in general. There is a danger of young people taking on too much of the weight of tragedy and loss in what has become a collective rite of passage for humanity.
In traditional cultures, it would be understood that youth and elders both contribute to the process of finding the next vision for life. If we are going to find ways to help young people survive the abandonment and betrayals that characterize modern societies, there must be a genuine awakening of elders.
The image of elders helping to understand the visions and struggles of young people is not simply a structural part of rites of passage. On a psychological level, it is a representation of the secret connection between youth and elders.
Elders and youth are opposites that secretly identify with each other. For, both are secretly attuned to the timeless cycles of nature, but also to a capacity for deep imagination that can redirect and revitalize human culture. Together they become the vessel in which the imagination needed to face the impossible tasks, and the courage needed to survive the troubled times can become conscious.
We are living at the end of one era and the beginning of another. The ancient sense of an underlying unity between elder and youth becomes the way we can hold end and beginning together. Youth and elders each carry aspects of an essential and timeless force of life that only becomes evident when the two parts are joined. When the oldest and the youngest parts of the soul come together, we can awaken the living force of nature and draw upon the underlying unity of life.
You can hear Michael Meade live by joining him for two upcoming online events. His new online workshop “Healer, Mentor, Elder, Guide” takes place this Saturday, November 13 and on Thursday, November 18 he will be offering a free online event called “Gratitude and Grace”. Register and learn more about both events at mosaicvoices.org/events.
You can save 30% on these events and further support this podcast by becoming a member of Living Myth Premium. Learn more and join this community of listeners at patreon.com/livingmyth.
We’d love to hear your feedback on the podcast. You can leave a review wherever you listen or send a question or comment to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On behalf of Michael Meade and the whole Mosaic staff, we wish you continued well-being and deep community connection during this period of great uncertainty and transformation.