In hard times, it is community that sees us through. An essential but often neglected part of nurturing community, especially when things fall apart, is mentoring. In this inter-generational exchange lies the seeds of hope for a better tomorrow.
With the knowledge and understanding gained from experience and reflection, imparted to those freshly assuming social responsibilities, comes an obligation to see that participating elders are able to live a life of dignity and fulfillment. Tribes, institutions and markets routinely make use of mentoring in order to perpetuate themselves; now it is time for networks devoted to intellectual development and humanitarian ideals to make use of this human resource in a way that respects the generosity of and meets the needs of mentoring elders.
Some programs honor wisdom of the elders through exposure of their ideas or examination of their lives, but it is the working relationships between elders and young people that promises to bear fruit. Investing in this relationship with scholarships and stipends, so both may participate without undue hardship, is possibly one of the most efficient uses of scarce funds to achieve meaningful change.
Large grants to tribes and institutions are important, but small grants to mentoring programs can prove to be equally effective. When they work in tandem, the sky’s the limit.
The world’s problems may get worse before they get better, but investing in mentoring now gives us a vital chance down the road. Without it, there is no chance at all.
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