Home Concepts Adult Development Essay XIX: The Heritage Drive—Extending Legacy in Time

Essay XIX: The Heritage Drive—Extending Legacy in Time

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William Bergquist and Gary Quehl

As we shift from a focus on Generativity Two (which is about leaving a tangible legacy within an organizational setting) to Generativity Three (which is about ensuring that legacy is sustained in heritage), we are moving from extending space to extending time.

This essay is about the nature and range of Generativity Three. It is also about the motivations that drive the push toward guardianship. While we will identify many different motivating drives in exploring the varieties of Generativity Three engagements, we focus on five that are central and reoccur: (1) nobles oblige, (2) living in a tangible culture, (3 safeguarding specific traditional values, (4) outliving ourselves, and (5) caring deeply by “passing it forward.”

Nobles Oblige

In many traditional societies—especially those with a strong and sustained class structure—the primary obligation of those at the top of the societal hierarchy is to preserve existing values, aspirations, and assumptions within society. This is the noble obligation (nobles oblige). One of our Emerging Sage leaders addresses this obligation directly:

It’s an old-fashioned notion, but I have a healthy dose of noblesse oblige. It was made abundantly clear to me from the beginning that I was very lucky, and with that came some burdens. My family, schools, and community reinforced that I have been blessed and need to pass those gifts on. When I was a little girl, every year at Christmas my school would adopt a family. We would raise money, pick out presents, and give them a Christmas they would not have been able to afford. Another source of motivation and inspiration is my religion. Social justice is a basic tenant of Unitarian Universalism. There’s a hymn that we sing, “We’ll build a world…” It’s about making a difference, about making this world we live in the best that it can be.

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