I. The Deep Caring Crossroads: A Life of Generativity or Stagnation

Gary Quehl May 18, 2017 0
I. The Deep Caring Crossroads: A Life of Generativity or Stagnation

William Bergquist and Gary Quehl

Let us set the stage: We are watching the final scene from the Godfather cinematic trilogy. Michael Corleone (as portrayed by Al Pacino) is staring out over Lake Tahoe in deep despair. By many standards Michael is a very successful man; he has led numerous “organizations,” and he is wealthy. He is also a very powerful and influential man in some ways – but is alone and estranged from all that is important in life. Michael just had his brother killed and has virtually no contact with other members of his family. He is aging before our eyes—so very different from the youthful Michael Corleone in the first Godfather movie who, straight out of the military after WWII, was to be the future of the Corleone family by forming a legitimate and respectable business. We see this future in the eyes of his father, Vito Corleone (played by Marlon Brando). Sitting in front of his beautiful home on the edge of Lake Tahoe, Michael envisions no future in terms of his own organizations or his enduring contributions to society. He is “burned out,” soulless and stagnate; a rotting, even lifeless entity who is without purpose or direction.

Michael Corleone has become alienated from four different deep caring roles, the roles which this book defines as generative. He is alienated from his family (the first role), from people he could be mentoring and organizations he could be building for the long-term after he is no longer around (the second role), from the traditions and culture he could sustain (the third role) and from the communities he could potentially serve and enhance (the fourth role). Our book focuses on these four deep caring roles and the choices that each of us makes in seeking to achieve a fulfilling life of generativity – or like Michael Corleone, falling into a life of stagnation.

There are many choices available to each of us during a lifetime. These choices can lead us to a self-renewing life or to stagnation and decline. Many of these decisions concern the way and the extent to which we care about other people, our heritage and our community. Michael Corleone, the second generation Godfather, made choices throughout his life that were concerned with what he should care about and how he should engage this caring. And his choices led to stagnation and despair for Michael as he sat at the end of the third Godfather movie beside the still waters of Lake Tahoe.

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