Home Concepts Adult Development Deep Caring XXVII: Generativity Four—The Sacrifices

Deep Caring XXVII: Generativity Four—The Sacrifices

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Gary Quehl and William Bergquist

 We conclude our exploration of Generativity Four by looking at the balance sheet of the sacrifices and benefits of civic engagement, as well as one likely result of non-involvement: stagnation. We already have addressed the issues of motivation and satisfaction in our previous essays. However, the tangible benefits which one receives from Generativity Four activities are not the same as motivations; they are closely linked but possess a different quality; motivation being more internal and benefits being more external. Furthermore, we believe that a key to understanding the choices between generativity and stagnation resides in the perceived presence or absence of benefits and sacrifice. Some people conclude that the benefits of civic engagement outweigh sacrifices, while others say that sacrifices outweigh benefits; still others see the lack of civic involvement as a potential sign of inertia. In this essay, we focus on the sacrifices. We rely once again primarily on the insights extracted from our interviews with 100 Sage leaders in Western Nevada County, California.

 The subject of civic engagement begs the question of whether the involvements of Sage leaders come at high cost, and whether such sacrifices are off-set by the personal benefits they receive. It is in this domain that we anticipated the greatest differences between Emerging and Senior Sage leaders. Of the 50 Senior Sages who were interviewed, 49 say there is virtually no sacrifice involved, that their civic work is enriching their lives. While the older leaders in most cases are now retired, or at least have fewer family constraints, the 50 younger Emerging Sages are typically in the midst of career demands and family obligations. This suggests that two questions need to be asked: How do they not see civic engagement as yet another pull on their time, talent, and energy? How do they not see this voluntary work as a sacrifice?

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