Every Generation needs every generation

October 5, 2011

Later today I am performing the role of MC for an Every Generation event held by Adelaide City Council. The event will focus around the screening of Babies, a documentary about the first year of life of four babies on four different continents. As part of my plan to expand the breadth of material archived via my blog, this post is sharing my introductory notes – likely to be changed upon delivery.

Amid the warning NOT to go overtime (I need to leave time for Adelaide Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood), the organisers did suggest I make some comments about how the mix of generations in the city leads to a rich diversity of experience. Here are the notes and the preview video clip for the movie.

My notes

Every Generation is such a good concept because every moment of our experience of life occurs against a backdrop of a tapestry of generations. And I say TAPESTRY deliberately because all of us are woven or stitched together to form the WHOLE.

When we think of this city it is easy to visualise all the generations involved:

There are little children in the Women’s and Children’s Hospital – and many homes. There are also likely to be little children sitting on nannas’ laps in buses and trains on their way home from a day in the city. I remember from my early years how this very building was important to me at that age, looking out the window for the Fowlers Lion which you could see from the train. It marked the end of a BIG JOURNEY for a little person. The city was such a strange place to a child from the suburbs and mum and grandma brought comfort and access.

There are teenagers enjoying the skate park near us. They remind other generations of the value of PLAY and just how crucial MOVEMENT is. Actually AGE and MOVEMENT go hand in hand. My exercise physiologist was telling me he was told off for not helping his grandma move about (in her late 80s). He believes we all have ability to keep moving and the more we mollycoddle people the more we hasten their physical and mental demise. A study was done in UK, in which elderly people with mobility issues were placed in a house decked out in decor, appliances and media from three decades earlier. It did not take long to reawaken their younger selves and ‘miraculaously’ regain more movement and independence.

There are adults getting about this city from all cultures, running shops, working, passing through, struggling with all the challenges of life, not least of which is looking after BABIES and the ELDERLY. They also are marking new starts. Again, this building, the Mercury Cinema, is where my wife and I got married almost ten years ago. It is comforting to think that this sacred space for us is a shared space also enjoyed by underground cinema groups and seniors movie afternoon goers.

Then there are boomers and seniors, some still ensnarled in the cut and thrust of city life, others able to stand apart and observe, volunteer to keep things moving, and to remember and enjoy. And if I remember my 5AA and 5DN days doing talkback, there are no doubt seniors not only CALLING but also RUNNING programs (did I mention Bob Francis?).

Here is this cinema this afternoon, we will be the centre of this rich tapestry of generations. Most of us are at the more experienced end of the lifetime ledger, and this movie will focus on the beginning.


This movie will surely remind all of us of people we know and our own children (if we had or have some), it will make us think about happy and sad times, remind us of proud moments and some we regret.

Two things that contemplating this movie has brought home for me:

  • Just how SIMILAR young humans are, no matter what race or culture. To see the young Aftrican babies go tit for tat – exactly what my 3yo did to my 1yo last night.
  • The other thing it reminds me is just how many of us ignore the fact that we are all HEADING NORTH as far as age goes, minute by minute, day by day.

Finally, it reminds me of this story about the Dalai Lama:

The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived”

I am hoping this movie will be another timely reminder to LIVE IN THE PRESENT, as it reminds us that we were once babies, that babies need an older generation to create and nurture them and that the care of babies can be a strong thread that ties generations together.