Friendship from Above

There are three institutions in American life that most effectively bring people together to forge strong and lifelong friendships, bridging differences of race, ethnicity, education, and wealth. All three are despised by the secular liberals.

What are they not? They are not institutions that isolate people by affirming identities according to vague or arbitrary categories. Colleges across the country have “centers” so defined, and we may end up with something similar at Providence College, if several pawn-pushing professors have their way. This is a mistake, as well intended as it might be, if the aim is friendship rather than political power.

We know what makes for friendship when it comes to persons. Beyond a certain commonality of interests – you both like the novels of Dostoyevsky, you are baseball fans, you play jazz – friendship consists in willing what is good for your friend, sharing a noble challenge or aim, and enjoying a common vision of what is true and beautiful. In other words, as Cicero says, true friendship without virtue is a contradiction in terms.

You don’t wring an apology from your friend for every one of his shortcomings. You don’t let your friend know he will lose your friendship if you cross him in opinion. If your friend speaks incautiously, you overlook it, and do not let your feelings be hurt. You don’t put the worst construction on your friend’s words or deeds. You don’t follow your friend with a forensic team searching for error and sin. You don’t lay to your friend’s charge the sins of his forebears.

You overlook much and forgive the rest, because you too are no saint. If you err, you are like the angel guardian of Dante’s Purgatory. When Saint Peter gave him the keys to that realm of atonement, he said he “should err rather in opening than in keeping shut.” You err rather in seeing things through the eyes of your friend, and making allowances, taking his part and not yours.

This is not easy. We are apt to do precisely the opposite, unless something far greater than ourselves drives us out of our safe spaces into the arena of danger, the arena of love. Political aims do not suffice. They reward ambition rather than humility, and so we have the old story, that as soon as political actors attain their victory they fall out with one another over the spoils; and that explains why academe, where secular liberals have swept the field, is still a snake pit of avarice, ambition, dissimulation, jealousy, and treachery.

We hear that friendship cannot subsist without equality. This too is a mistake, though a natural one to make, given our just commitment to equality before the law, and our belief that in the eyes of God, no human being in himself possesses greater dignity than another.

Fr. Emil Kapaun teaches baseball (Kansas, c. 1940)
Emil Kapaun (priest, athlete, soldier) teaches baseball in Kansas, c. 1940

But the language of equality is unstable. It trembles upon the fulcrum of reality. Dante was a greater poet than was his friend Guido Cavalcanti. Scipio Aemilianus was a greater statesman than was his friend Laelius. George Washington was a greater hero than was his beloved protégé, the Marquis de Lafayette. Equality, says C. S. Lewis, is medicine for us, not nourishment. The true friend does not need the medicine. He enjoys the other’s excellence.

So what are the three remaining prime friendship-making institutions in our time? As I see them, they are the military, team sports, and the Church.

I cannot delve into all of the reasons why this is so, but I can focus on one. In different ways, each one bears out the words of Jesus, which apply not only to our eternal destiny, but to our flourishing on earth as beings made to know what is true and to love what is beautiful. The law is simply put. He who would save his life must lose it.

The good sergeant looks out for the welfare of his men, and that is why he disciplines them, because otherwise he is only a bully. The corporal obeys his sergeant readily, even anticipating commands, because he senses that authority legitimately exercised is a gift for those who submit to it: we share in it by obedience.

The man on the offensive line will likely not touch a live football all year long, and only the best fans will remember his name, but he allows his body to take a beating for the sake of the men who get the glory. They for their part know they are nothing without him.

The man beside you in the trench is your comrade. To ask whether you and he vote the same way would be utterly impertinent. Jesus did not say, “Greater love than this hath no man, than to allow himself to be persuaded by the most vocal of political actors, and to vote as they approve.”

Jesus did not say, “If you love your brother, you will approve of the splinter in his eye, and help him to others besides.” Bullets whistle about your head. They remind you of reality. The man beside you is your brother. He would give himself for you. All other considerations fade in significance.

So also in the Church. Only there does the rich man fall to his knees beside the poor man, in acknowledgment that he is nothing. If he claims superiority there, he is a fool. Only there do people of all ages, men and women, girls and boys, stock brokers and road workers, housewives and professors, join in joy and sorrow, in gratitude and in petition to the Lord, in dismay for our failings and in wonder for the mercy of God. How can you not feel a bond with the person who kneels with you?

That consummate politician below knows it. So he inspires people who speak about unity to forget friendship in the heat of political action, and to disdain the Lord, in whom alone we can truly become one.

Anthony Esolen

Anthony Esolen

Anthony Esolen is a lecturer, translator, and writer. His latest books are Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child and Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture. He teaches at Providence College.

  • ForChristAlone

    What you write, Tony, makes much sense – sense enough for a full treatment in a book.

    I grew up in a parish in Brooklyn – a bifurcated parish that, on the one hand, housed the likes of the former Governor of NY, Hugh Carey and other politicians, lawyers, doctors and financiers. Then, there were the rest of the parish of lower middle class who earned their living as manual laborers or as small shop keepers and the like.

    We sat beside each other in Church and even next to one of our friend’s fathers who all of us knew had serious mental illness and shouted out impulsively during Solemn High Mass. We sang GregorIan chant alongside one another in the choir loft these captains of industry and us, the sons of hands-encrusted laborers.

    And we all attended Catholic school together. We knew the ones who would be attending the highly prized expensive private Jesuit-run Catholic high schools reserved for the well-off and the ones of us who would go to diocesan Catholic schools run by the Christian Brothers and other religious who historically taught the poorer Catholics

    But even though we knew there were distinctions, there was a solidarity among us because we were fellow Catholics. That was central to our very identity. Once, in first grade I spotted a gleaming wristwatch on the forearm of one of the wealthier kids. I remember his name to this day. I so would have liked a watch like his. So, I asked him if I could wear it home during one particular lunch break. He took it off with no hesitancy at all and I proudly wore it home and returned it an hour later. We were brothers in Christ – that, we knew. At the end of the school day, he returned to his fashionable brownstone alongside the park laid out by Olmstead and I returned to our multi-storied railroad apartment three avenues away. Life was good then.

  • Rick

    The cornerstone of any frienship is trust. In church, at least fo an hour, I feel I can trust the person next to me in the pew.

    Trust politicians? Every time I vote I have hope. This time my hope is with DT.

    • Gary Ashman

      Why?

  • The photo of the baseball playing priest reminds me of Ingrid Bergman in the Bells of St Mary’s, teaching her charges to box so they can defend themselves against bullies.
    I sigh for such vigorous yet kindly pedagogy. There is plenty in the Gospels arguing that sometimes a sock on the jaw is the best response. Sin has been replaced by inappropriate choices. Short and sweet fisticuffs has been replaced by interminable, tedious and useless ‘counselling’. Freedom has been replaced by determinism.

    • Nancy Lynne

      I, too, long for such vigorous yet kindly pedagogy to enable me to defend my position against the progressive bullies with whom I come in contact. Currently I am defenseless against them. They have institutionalized re-education for the politically incorrect in schools and in workplaces. Are there any re-education programs out there for the politically correct?
      At present all I can do is escape, when the talk (and it’s not pretty) turns to politics, as I did yesterday from a family gathering where everyone, except one brother-in-law and me, are rabid progressive Democrats. Is there a conservative underground out there?
      “How can you not feel a bond with the person who kneels with you?” To be honest I don’t necessarily feel a bond with the person kneeling next to me. It’s a feeling so sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.

      • Rich in MN

        Nancy, I have said an intercessory prayer for you to our Mother in Heaven that she might give you strength and guidance. It is a difficult time psychologically, especially since even our major Catholic universities and not a small number of our parishes seem to be rotting from the inside out. It is like being in some bizarre adaptation of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” The prayer of St Faustina is an important reminder to me that one friendship, one aspiration, one desire surpasses all others: Jesus, I trust in you. May that be a comfort to you as well.

      • Rich in MN

        Nancy, one additional comment. Last night I was watching a rebroadcast of the EWTN program, “Women of Grace,” and Fr. Wade Menezes was Johnette’s guest. They discussed a passage from St Faustina’s diary in which she remarks that, if angels did feel envy (which they do not because they have chosen to follow God), they would be envious of humans for two reasons: humans can receive the Blessed Lord in Holy Communion and humans can suffer. Whether it be physical suffering or emotional suffering, God allows suffering and can use it for His special purposes. Continue to pray for guidance and strength and that God may use your suffering for God’s good purpose. And always, always stay in close contact with other Catholics seeking to follow the Will of God. As then Cdl Joseph Ratzinger notes in his “Introduction to Christianity,” the ‘relatedness’ of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is as integral and essential to God’s nature as the individual “being-ness” of God. We, too, have a fundamental need for community.

  • winslow

    Good job, Professor Esolen. You lap the field.

  • Carol

    Wonderful article. I especially love the part where you state a true friend enjoys the others excellence. How true! Now envy has replaced this enjoyment. So sad and ruinous for our society.

  • Rich in MN

    “You overlook much and forgive the rest….”

    Sometimes it can be difficult to know the line in the sand where fraternal correction, or even ostracization, is the correct course of action. One of your previous CT essays was a spoof of the prodigal son story (I think it came after Pope Francis gave a loosy-goosy reply to some question) in which the prodigal son comes home apparently not completely repentant. His subsequent behavior ends up leading the older brother’s son away from the truth. So things can be complicated.

    Sadly, “fraternal correction, or even ostracization” cuts both ways. I have a coworker with whom I had developed a friendship that lasted a number of years. He is an atheist, I am not, and we had some discussions about God and religion that seemingly born no fruit (but I’ll let God sort that out), but we maintained our friendship. I am an amateur musician who dabbles in composition, and he and his wife would love to come to the coffee shops where my duet was playing because he loved my music. We had some good conversations, and also some poignant times as well; for example, when he told me of his wife’s cancer diagnosis and I hugged him as he broke down in tears (he is someone not prone to showing emotion).

    He knew I did not support gay marriage because I believe it is anti-child, anti-marriage. He did support it, but I thought we had reached a certain level of ‘agree to disagree’ over that issue. However one day, another man who works on my floor — this man has gender confusion and dresses in women’s clothing — was going into the women’s bathroom, and my friend made some vague remark which I initially ignored. Finally, I just asked a question: “Can you think of any other area in which, when someone’s subjective opinion is in conflict with empirical reality, we believe that it is empirical reality that is in error?” I thought that was a fair question to ask my friend. Well, it was not long after that when he told me he no longer wanted to have anything to do with me. He no longer wanted to listen to my music or have any contact with me. I told him I would be glad to discuss this outside of work, but he was not interested. To this day, we have uncomfortable interactions at work.

    The whole matter has just reinforced the adage that all we need do is label someone as intolerant in order to justify our intolerance of them.

    • MSDOTT

      I think it is a very fair question that you asked, Rich in MN, and thank you for its clarity. I will copy it for possible future use. I do believe that we have to ask questions like this, even though the response may be negative. Somehow, we have to inject some sanity into situations like these, and these type of questions are ‘sane’ questions.
      I was similarly called “judgemental” by my friend who is an orthodox Jew. …and subsequently shunned – …though to be honest, the shunning may not be for the reason I give. But I don’t know what else the reason may have been. We had been friends for over 10 years, helping each other out in various situations, and visiting with each other regularly. A mutual acquaintance’s marriage was breaking down and while still living in the same house, the husband and wife started dating other people. … I mentioned to my friend that the word for this was ‘adultery’… and my friend accused me of being judgmental. I responded that ‘Thou shall not commit adultery’ was one of the 10 commandments, a ‘heritage’ common to us both, as Catholic and Jew. My friend admitted that this was true, but said I should not say it out loud.
      My former friend also disagreed with me about abortion. While we agreed to disagree on this subject, my friend was furious with me when I called abortion a holocaust, and said I was trivializing what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust. I felt that was so unfair. …we had had many conversations on the horror of the Holocaust, and there is no way I ever trivialized it. But in retrospect, I think for the Jewish people there is only one Holocaust.
      I think we will have to expect to sustain losses in friendships. I wish it wasn’t so. But, while sticking up for the truth, we are going to be labelled judgemental and intolerant. Though my Jewish friend’s parting words were…”you are one of the most decent people I have ever met”. But I guess, decent does not guarantee friendship.

      • ForChristAlone

        Let’s face it, Jesus who is God, sustained losses in friendship…quite a few, in fact.

      • debby_d_NJ

        You and Rich in MN sound like Real Men, Real Friends. May our Lord and Lady enrich your lives with like-minded. Frodo would not have made it to Mount Doom without Sam. But even Sam couldn’t be there in that pivotal test – yet, Sam accompanied him In Spirit all the way. Your friend needs the grace to forgive. The Jewish Holocaust (Hitler’s) is one of many, even in their own history. Maybe this is where – in the spirit – you can be the best friend his soul ever had. You can pray for him to receive that grace.

        • Rich in MN

          Thank you, Debby, for the kind words. May God bless you, too!

    • Dave

      Rick, this is a poignant story and I am sure all the other readers and commentators join me in mourning the loss of your friendship with this fellow. Steady on!: one never knows what happens with prayer and kindness shown even when not shown to us.

    • Sir Flatulus

      my hunch is your remark threatened your ex-friend’s identity, exposing his own lack of faith in it, his doubt
      we act strangely when threatened, I think, and we are most alert to threats when we are in uncertain territory, where we don’t know ourselves
      your ex-friend doesn’t know himself, is my hunch
      he’s an atheist, or so he believes, and I’m guessing likely also a progressive
      maybe he took your remark as a disguised values-clarification and realignment of sorts, and maybe that was threatening because he’s concerned at the subconscious level that he is standing on shaky ground to begin with

    • Cheryl Jefferies

      You struck what I call the “Truth Nerve,” Rich. It was done kindly, but, in such a way that it forced your friend to face up to…the Truth. That is a painful experience for those who have spent decades, or, entire lives, fooling themselves. You asked an excellent question. He will either run from it (as he has done thus far) or he will face it. Do not berate yourself. You did the right thing.

  • Michael DeLorme

    Ezra Pound, on the death of T.S. Eliot:

    “Who is there, now, for me to share a joke with.”

    That was a friendship.

    By the way, Pound would have agreed, although somewhat reluctantly, with the Dante/Cavalcanti comparison: “Without knowing Dante, Guido Cavalcanti and Villon, no one can judge the attained maxima of certain kinds of writing.” [E.P.]

  • Harry

    The man beside you in the trench is your comrade. … Bullets whistle about your head. They remind you of reality. The man beside you is your brother. He would give himself for you. All other considerations fade in significance.

    Many Christians who have spent time in the trenches of Pro-Life activism with other sincere Christians from various denominations have experienced such camaraderie. It is “friendship from above,” born of the Spirit, and is, I think, the beginning of the restoration of the wholeness of the Body of Christ on Earth, the dismemberment of which made possible the dismemberment by the millions of the least of His brethren.

    The splintering of Christianity resulted in the rise of the modern, radically secularized, godless state, which recognizes no authority above its own, and claims for itself the prerogative to authorize the killing of innocent humanity, the least of His brethren, as a matter of social policy.

    Contemporary Christianity has refused to allow the fervent prayer of Christ to be answered:

    And not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me; That they all may be one, as thou, Father, are in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
    — John 17:20-21

    That sounds a lot like Christian disunity is the very reason the world does not yet believe that God Himself sent His Son Jesus into the world.

    The restoration of the wholeness of the Body of Christ on earth is only impossible if we continue to believe it is impossible. What Christ Himself asks of the Father — our unity — far from being impossible, is inevitable. The misuse of our free will, a free will which God always honors, is all that keeps this generation from seeing it happen. We can choose to let a future generation accomplish it, but it eventually happening is inevitable. How can the Father refuse to answer the prayer of the Son?

    I think the dismemberment of the babies will only end when Christ’s Body is no longer dismembered. The battle to end the dismemberment of the babies is what will restore the wholeness of the Body of Christ on Earth. It seems to me that the two are inextricably linked to each other.

    • Michael DeLorme

      Profoundly powerful.

    • kilbirt42

      Well said. More and more As I watch Christians come together to feed the hungry, give shelter to the homeless and protect the most vulnerable amongst us, the unborn, I feel hope that we all may be one.

  • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

    How good it is when brothers dwell together in unity. It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down Aron’s beard, unto the collar of his robes Ps 133. Good article Tony extolling band of brothers virtue and selflessly extolling excellence in others. Many troops don’t fire their weapons. Fighting is done by heroic types. Where we should find solidarity, the priesthood, there often is judgment of the brothers. Sports teams that win have a standout player. I’m a devotee of Henri Bergson. In his The Two Sources of Religion and Morality he makes the case for the historical heroic spiritual leader. Most of us on this site find solidarity in shared religious views and a forum for discussion. We are a band of brothers and sisters in a diluted Christian culture. We need another Cyril of Alexandria or Athanasius the Great.

    • Michael DeLorme

      Athanasius.for me.

    • Cheryl Jefferies

      I think we might have another Athanasius. Bishop Athanasius of Kazakhstan. One of my heroes and role models in this insane world. I never miss anything he writes. And, like his namesake, he is honest and fearless…no matter what he writing about or speaking about. Including, the modern Church.

      • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

        Cheryl I read of him by accident recently looking up Athanasius, and was impressed. I’ll research his writings. Let’s hope with our prayers that he, or perhaps someone like Card Gerhard Muller Pref for the Cong for the Doc of the Faith, who recently said “bishops conferences do not constitute a magisterium within the Magisterium” and is orthodox assumes leadership of Catholicism.

      • Fr. Peter Morello, Ph.D.

        A note of interest on Bishop Athanasius. His birth name is Anton Schneider born in Kazakhstan. The surname name including first name Anton is German. Catherine the Great German wife of Peter III after a coup d’etat engineered by the military 1762 became Tsarina of All the Russias. She brought in skilled Germans expert in everything from viniculture to machine tools to improve Russian economy. Many settled in the Ukraine area and elsewhere in Russia, many were Catholic. My guess is Athanasius is a descendant since indigenous Russian Catholics apart from that group of German emigres are virtually non existent.

      • Alicia

        I recently read a long interview that he gave. I was so impressed !!!
        The church needs many more like him. God bless him.

  • Mr. Graves

    Well said, sir.

  • grump

    Today’s kumbaya lesson. Everyone’s equal. Let’s hear it for egalitarianism. There are no differences among human beings. Can’t we all just get along?

    • Dave

      Grump, I think you missed the point.

      • grump

        @Dave. No I didn’t. It’s implied in the first paragraph. Differences cannot be bridged between races.

        • debby_d_NJ

          WOW. I don’t think you have ever typed a more ridiculous and flat out WRONG comment before. “In Christ, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female…..” His Cross IS THE BRIDGE FOR ALL OF US

        • Tony

          Dear Grump — When you bridge differences, the differences remain, but you have a friendship across the differences. That does regularly happen in the military and in sports, and I think it can and should happen in the Church, insofar as the Church returns to its soldierly mission, and is not reduced to a social club. What strikes me is that athletes have the inter-racial friendships that somehow are never formed in academe: Bob Gibson and Tim McCarver, Terry Bradshaw and Lynn Swann, Karl Malone and John Stockton, etc.

    • Cheryl Jefferies

      Dr. Esolen isn’t saying we’re all equal. He’s saying we are all sinners. I think that’s really about the only thing all humans truly do “share in equally.” But, the three areas he speaks of are areas where we should try not to let egos get in the way of thinking.

    • Bobo Fett

      Don’t think it was kumbaya..or everyone’s equal. “We hear that friendship cannot subsist without equality. This too is a mistake”

      I have a hair trigger for touchy-feely mumbo jumbo. And i didn’t sense it at all.

  • Cheryl Jefferies

    I never miss your essays. They are always excellent. Thank you for, once again, reminding us of that “consummate politician below,” Satan. We tend to forget about him. Pity. He never forgets about us…we are always his targets. His ultimate goal is our soul. He is very enticing, too. Alluring. Deadly. Fatal…an “eternity-type” fatal. We forget that at risk of our immortal soul.

  • Dave

    The military, sports, and the Church each require that their members recognize there is a greater good than personal comfort or even personal triumph, and that the members locate their triumphs in the triumph of the team and, in the case of the Church, the family (though alas, far too many consider the Church just another team), and that personal triumph can come only in sacrificing oneself to goals and goods that lie outside oneself while supporting others who engage in the same, common sacrifice. That is why we honor both those who triumph and those who makes others’ triumphs possible.

  • bernie

    Great reflections. Thank you.
    Borrowing from Dr. Bill May, I think we also need to recognize our spouse as our greatest friend and reflect on the reasons. In his definition of marriage he uses the term “person affirming”. The same principle is of great significance in our other relations, as well as the necessity of presenting no “masks”.

  • Brenda Zolli

    I trained as a nurse in the UK in London, in the 1960’s. It was incredibly hard work as they used student nurses as labor on the wards in addition to attending classes. We really did receive an excellent training and came after the three years, poised responsible young women. As the hospital administration took its’ collective ‘loco parentis’ duties seriously, we were very protected? We were required to live in the Nurses’ Home and had a strict curfew. We wore an old fashioned uniform, starched aprons and caps. By todays standards, we were positively Victorian!
    It was a truly bonding experience and I still have friends from 50 years ago. Friendships often began with shared experiences. It was very like the military, discipline, hard work and responsibility. It was amazing that we were often left in charge of a ward full of very sick patients, at the tender age of 19 or 20!
    But it formed resilience and character. And we had so much fun! The memories of this period are very sweet.

  • What a fantastic piece. Mr. Esolen is one of the best essayists around. Thank you.

  • “There are three institutions in American life that most effectively bring people together to forge strong and lifelong friendships, bridging differences of race, ethnicity, education, and wealth. All three are despised by the secular liberals.”

    Of course, the singular strategy of the statist enterprise is to diminish, debase or distort any mediating institution that stands between the individual and society, so as to make the individual crave the state for identity, purpose and protection.

  • sw

    The military?

    “The man beside you in the trench is your comrade.” Explain that to the numerous women (and men) raped in the military.

    Even aside from that: Higher-up generals can make buckets of money by going on sabbatical to defense contractors in exchange for giving guidance to political leaders to start a war that they know should not be fought but would be very lucrative for themselves. The incentives are there. What makes you think they do not do it? Have they really got their underlings backs?

    • Tony

      If you are going to define an institution by its criminals and demons, make sure that you do so for every institution: public schools, hospitals, town councils, Shriners’ clubs, and so forth. Whatever we may believe about the wisdom of the wars in which the US has been involved, the experience of men in the military bears out what I say. A white man and a black man are a hundred times more likely to form a strong and lifelong friendship there than in academe.

    • ZuzanaM

      You have been watching too much TV. Just as with the priest scandal, you make sweeping remarks about the military. There are 414,313 Catholic priests in the world. Yet, the media would lead us to believe the actions of several hundred priests worldwide characterizes the priesthood in general. Today, nearly 1,000 generals and admirals lead the branches of the military, with 1.3 million people in the ranks. If you were to take the time to investigate the actions of all the leaders of the military, you may find that the thesis of Prof. Esolen is valid.

  • KarenJo12

    Typical Esolen: three things that he has clearly stated should be exclusively male. Women are never to be permitted friendship. We have males to grovel beneath and friendships would detract from our ability to worship males.

    • ZuzanaM

      I am sorry, but I am not sure that you actually read the article by Prof Esolen. Or perhaps you did, but you, yourself, have never been a member of a sports team, in the military, or a member of the Church. Your remarks clearly witness to both conclusions.

  • jack

    The one thing the three institutions you mention – sport, military, and Church – have in common is that they are all currently under withering attack. Having conquered marriage, the homo-lobby is now out to conquer friendship. The forced showering and dressing with gays and trans is now underway. The back-biting and accusations and jealousies will tear any esprit-de-corps apart. Same for the military. Suspicion, hurt feelings, and disgust will change the nature of those organizations drastically.

    The Church? Well, the huge number of homosexual clerics have seen to it that any close bonding of priests with young men is gone. The feminized mass with its horizontal worship of each other and the army of women rushing the altar to act like priestesses have chased men away in droves. Pick up a Church bulletin announcing its new crop of altar ‘servers’ and you’ll see 12-15 smiling girls and 3 frowning little boys forced to join by their mothers.

    This evolving state of affairs will make people like KarenJo12 ecstatic. They find it difficult to bond in this selfless way and will be happy to see it all blown up. The last thread hold our civilization together (along with the destruction of the family) will be destroyed in a few short generations. Maybe sooner.