Dear God, I was reading Fred Smith’s blog post from yesterday and many thoughts came to mind. I would commend it to anyone. In it, he was describing how the Baby Boomer generation has responded to life through the decades and what kind of legacy it is currently leaving. Of course, things like this are always brushed with a broad stroke, and Fred would be the first to say that. In fact, he took time to talk about the “Boomers” who do not fit the stereotype, but the stereotype is there nonetheless.
One of my first thoughts is that the “Greatest Generation” is all but gone. Those that are still around are certainly weakened and their influence diminished. In my mind, the thing that defined the Greatest Generation the most was their struggle to survive. They survived the Great Depression. They survived World War II. They were forged by fire They were tempered. I’m not saying they were perfect. I’m not saying I idealize or idolize them. But I do think they had a strength as a group that grew through trial.
I also wondered if the disaster of the Vietnam War and its execution combined with the civil unrest with racism in the 60s didn’t create a new culture of protesting that has stuck with them and filtered down to the other generations today. I don’t know how many protests there were before the 1960s. I mean, I know there were protests before that. But did those that are in their 60s and 70s now embrace them in a new way as they expressed their anger and outrage? Did they see this as their best way to affect change? Their only way? Has this pattern of displaying anger to get your way somehow become baked into our political and other disagreements even today?
Incidentally, and speaking of Vietnam and the war there, I learned something interesting yesterday. There was a remarkable three-month period in 1973 that is fascinating. Richard Nixon was inaugurated for his second term on January 20. Lyndon Johnson, his predecessor and a president who expanded the war in Vietnam died on January 22. The U.S. signed a treaty to withdraw from South Vietnam on January 27. The U.S. removed the last of its troops on March 27. Finally, after the withdrawal, the South Vietnam president visited the US in April to seek assurances of financial and military aid from Nixon and pay respects at the LBJ’s grave.
But back on topic. This spirit of deciding that yelling is the best way to get your voice heard seems to have now won the day in our society. The idea that if I tell you how angry you’ve made me will get you to change course has drowned out constructive dialogue, and it seems to have seeped into Generation X (my generation) as well. I’m not saying the protests were wrong. I’m not saying the anger at the time was wrong. But the hammer of yelling, protesting, etc. seems to be the preferred tool for those who are trying to influence society or even their own communities or families now. I’ll admit that I’ve done it and used it too often. I’m sorry for that.
Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, help me to see that most things are not a nail, and my hammer is rarely the tool I need to address the issue in front of me. Help me to see that most issues are actually born of brokenness and broken people, and the tool I need to use more frequently is compassion and love. I need to listen better and talk less. I need to listen to you first. I need to hear your Holy Spirit in real time so that I can be who you need me to be. I need to worship you and till the soil of my heart. I need to be at peace knowing that there is actually very little that bothers me that I can affect, but there are all kinds of things I can do every day to allow your presence to enter the world through me. So forgive me for my belligerence, and let your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven through my life.
I pray all of this as I worship you, the God of the universe,