Years ago an elderly minister told me “What this church needs are a few more funerals.” I do not even remember what we were discussing, but that line has stuck with me. What was particularly significant about this experience is that this man of German descent was known to be very conservative, but he understood young people were ultimately going to prevail over his generation, and he thought some changes would be beneficial.
Thinking of that statement sometimes helps give issues around us a different perspective. If an issue is divisive based upon the generation represented by each side, all it takes are a few more funerals and the issue will be decided. I will give two examples.
Take gay rights, whether it be gay marriage or laws to protect gays in other ways, there appears to be a huge generational divide. As a senior citizen, I see a big difference between the views of young people and people my age on this issue. Young people are far more accepting of gay people and their rights. Thus, wait for a few more funerals and this issue will be resolved.
Another issue is immigration. As it appears young people are more accepting of illegal immigrants than old people, it is just a matter of time and there will be sufficient support for Congress to act to provide a path to citizenship for undocumented aliens.
However, there is another factor that will settle the immigration issue other than on generational grounds. The people in this country illegally now are going to die, and their children born in this country are United States citizens. Thus, even if Congress never acts, in a few years the illegal immigrants of our time will not be a problem.
You can no doubt think of other issues, such as the legalization of marijuana and abortion, for which there may be a substantial difference in the views of different generations. I do not even know for sure where young people are on all of the issues that divide us, as different surveys come up with different results. We also do not know how the views of young people today might change as they age. However, painful as it might be, especially for us older folks, the younger generation is going to prevail, if only after we have had a few more funerals.