Home Concepts Adult Development Essay XXI:  Generativity Three: Consecrating, Gathering, Preserving Values, Story-Telling

Essay XXI:  Generativity Three: Consecrating, Gathering, Preserving Values, Story-Telling

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There are other kinds of gatherings that need little explanation or justification. They involve the reunion of soldiers and other guardians of the country’s security during periods of great stress and challenge. One of our colleagues, Art Sandstrom, lived for many years in northern Alaska, where it is totally dark or totally light many months of the year. Members of his particular community served in the United States armed forces and were in charge of the Arctic line of defense and communication during the 1950s-1960s. The veterans of this challenging assignment (men called WAMCATS) still get together each year to share stories and reaffirm their values. The WAMCATS are bringing their children and grandchildren to keep the tradition going. The meetings are even more important now because some members of WAMCATS are dying each year. Like the survivors of Pearl Harbor, there is remembrance of difficult times—though the WAMCATS were not victims of actions taken by other people but were instead the initiators, the problem-solvers, the winners. Typically, men like Art Sandstrom who organize the WAMCATS each year are not brash or in need of massive ego-stroking. Rather, they are often quiet, dedicated, and thoughtful about the values and history that emerged from the frozen communication centers in Alaska. They don’t want these values or this history to be lost or discounted. They are generative in their actions.

There are other men and women who shared experiences that might not be as traumatic or as important historically as the defense of their country, but these Generativity Three guardians reaffirm their history and values through annual gatherings. We find this spirit of generative gathering beautifully illustrated in the novel, play and movie, Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. Life commitments and aspirations are renewed in this story of deep female companionship. One of our friends, Lee Johnson, exemplifies this spirit in real life, as the co-founder of a fraternity during his college years. Lee and his co-founders still get together every year (35-40 years later) to honor their legacy and the values embedded in their original decision as college students to create their own unique community of aspirations and moral code. As is the case with many other Generativity Three gatherings, there is a whole lot of story-telling and values-affirmation. It is to these final two types of generativity three acts that we now turn.

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