Our parents weren’t everything we needed. Maybe it was more time we needed. More understanding. More kindness. More support. More love. More just them having their act together.
But they weren’t this. Sadly, they also weren’t what the world needed either. Few generations have been. They kicked problems down the road. They started wars that cost blood and treasure to little purpose. They abused the environment. They averted their gaze, turned their hearts away from sufferings and injustice.
In a recent interview on Marc Maron’s podcast, Arnold Schwarzenegger talked about how his own life, as a parent, as a politician, as a person was largely driven by the desire to go in a different direction than the example of his father and his father’s generation. His father had been a Nazi, his father drank too much, his father smacked his kids around.
Did Arnold have to follow in those footsteps? No.
“I wanted to be a different generation,” he explained. “I wanted to be the next generation. I wanted to show people that within one generation, you can actually go and say, ‘No, never again. We’re going to go in a different direction. This generation is going to go in a different direction.’
Each of us has the power to make a break, to be and give what we didn’t get. It may not need to be as severe as diverting from a father like Arnold’s, but we can do better than our own parents did. We can make a mark as a new generation. We have the opportunity to break away from the habits or the mindsets that pained you about your own childhood or your parents’ childhood.
We can be different. We can be better. We can go in a different direction. We have to.