Example: [Collected via e-mail, September 2008]
A stunning senior moment
A self-important college freshman attending a recent football game took it upon himself to explain to John McCain sitting next to him why it was impossible for the older generation to understand his generation.
'You grew up in a different world, actually an almost primitive one', the student said, loud enough for many of those nearby to hear. 'The young people of today grew up with television, jet planes, space travel, man walking on the moon. Our space probes have visited Mars. We have nuclear energy, ships and electric and hydrogen cars, cell phones, computers with light-speed
After a brief silence, John McCain responded as follows:
'You're right, son. We didn't have those things when we were
The applause was amazing ...
Origins: The term "generation gap" was coined several decades ago to identify the concept that our world now changes so much (both technologically and socially) in the course of an ordinary human's lifetime, older folks can't possibly fully grasp or understand all the issues and challenges that confront the generation currently coming of age. (A common retort is that while other aspects of our world may change, human nature remains largely constant,
The anecdote related above plays on that concept: While a member of the younger generation whines that his elders don't understand the challenges of the modern world, one of those elders points out that the modern world was created by members of previous generations who tackled challenges
Did John McCain really say this? While it's possible he may have repeated this anecdote (or something like it) at one time or another, the narrative is not original to him: This
Then Reagan turned to the activists. Initially he tried to engage them in dialogue, but he soon found that they only wanted to trade barbs and insults. Reagan's quick-wittedness is apparent from records of some of those exchanges. At one campus meeting, a student told Reagan that it was impossible for people of Reagan's generation to understand young people. "You grew up in a different world," he said. "Today we have television, jet planes, space travel, nuclear energy, computers." Without missing a beat, Reagan replied, "You're right. It's true that we didn't have those things when we were young. We invented them."
D'Souza, Dinesh. Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999. ISBN 0-684-84823-6 (p. 71). Reagan, Nancy with William Novak. My Turn: The Memoirs of Nancy Reagan. New York: Random House, 1989. ISBN 0-394-56368-9 (p. 145).