Home Concepts Adult Development IV. Setting the Stage: The Four Roles of Deep Caring and Generativity

IV. Setting the Stage: The Four Roles of Deep Caring and Generativity

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Deep caring can move even further and deeper. We not only write our own cookbook; we honor other great cooks and seek to preserve their recipes, cookbooks, and even previously-recorded cooking shows. This is the third role of generativity, and it has to do with heritage and tradition. Say the public library in our town has decided to throw away or sell at a greatly discounted price older books in order to make room for newer ones. Among them are some old cookbooks that seem out of date and are among the first books to be discarded. You find out about this decision and petition to keep the outdated books, noting that great recipes remain eternally valid and vital. It would be a shame to discard this enduring culinary wisdom and dishonor the wonderful women and men who carefully prepared these books. This is Generativity Three at its height.

This third role of generativity can also be enacted when we seek to honor a person who has won the most baking contests at the annual county fair over the past 30 years. We collect baking recipes from many people in our community and assemble them in a cookbook named after the baking champion. Researchers in many fields have been doing this for many years. They honor a colleague who has made major contributions to their field by assembling a series of essays that focus on the themes and findings for which their honored colleague is noted. These assembled essays are given a fancy, Germanic name— they are called “Festschrifts.” This is big time Generativity Three.

There is a fourth way in which generativity is enacted on behalf of the culinary arts. We can engage our community in the enhancement of these arts. We start a recipe-sharing club. We ask a chef in town to come to one of our homes and cook a meal for some members of our community. At the same time, the chef offers some tips about cooking and shares her recipe at the end of the meal. We pay for the food and chef, and the chef donates the money to a charitable cause. The chef finds the event to be personally gratifying, and her restaurant gets some publicity.

Generativity Four is also enacted when we start, manage, or advocate for a program that provides left-over food from restaurants and grocery stores to homeless families in our community. Called by many names (often “Urban Harvest”), these food-sharing programs are a “god-send” for many destitute people and local shelters. In some large cities, it is estimated that food not used by restaurants and not sold by groceries could meet all of the nutritional needs for every homeless person living there. It is only a matter of legal protection (the so-called “Good Samaritan” laws) and finding the right people and distribution networks to get food to these people. Typically, the costs of distribution are offset by restaurant and grocery store savings in reduced garbage services. It comes down to a matter of generative services on behalf of the community’s ultimate welfare. It comes down to the enactment of the fourth role of generativity.

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