LJ Phillips ’25 (DCI Fellow)
Job 12:12 of the Bible, says, “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in the length of days.” This is certainly a truth that all of us can relate to. You can learn a lot from the people who have come before. You can also learn from the generation behind you as well. Age brings wisdom while youth brings new and refreshed ideas. These conclusions are why I think age diversity is crucial in having productive deliberations.
In my D Team last semester, I noticed the deliberators’ openness, knowledge, and respect for their peers. Although all those aspects of the D-Team were important, the one that stood out to me was the age diversity and distribution. The different age groups really brought new perspectives and knowledge about the topics that many of the participants were unaware of beforehand.
Many alumni from Davidson ranging from 30 to almost 80 years old made the deliberations flow and more engaging. They made the students feel comfortable but also intrigued in learning aspects they would have never known if someone who had more experience with the topic had not told them. Also, it was beneficial for the students’ forebearers to hear about how the next and current generations feel about certain issues.
People of an older age in deliberations bring nuance and history to topics that students and other younger members would not know the details about because they didn’t live during that time period. Instead of having an outside view of the situation due to age, they have a direct experience with whatever the discussion is about. This sentiment can be shared with younger people as well in the discussion. They provide new insights into topics that they are more accustomed to than their older peers (such as social media).
I think a good example of the influence age diversity has on our interactions would be the conversations we have with family members and colleagues. Even though you might not have the same love and respect for someone in your D Team as you have for your grandmother, the insight you can gain from them is extremely valuable.
We take for granted how important it is for different generations to interact, especially in a time like today when the generations are more disconnected from one another than ever before. Deliberations that are more diverse in nature have a positive impact on the discussion. Age plays a pivotal role when it comes to diversity in spaces like D Teams. It is more useful to acknowledge the differences in experiences and wisdom to come to a solution to any contentious issue.
I encourage elders to speak about their experiences and teach the youth, and I encourage young students and adults to help their predecessors with new ideas foreign to them and share their experiences as well. No matter if you are 40, 21, or 68, you have significance and can bring valuable contributions to any deliberations, so do not be afraid to convey your thoughts – we will all appreciate them.