I’ve always been fascinated by World War II history. My parents were part of that era, born in 1916 and 1926, respectively. They were married shortly after my father returned from his Army experience in the Pacific Theater. He was stationed on the island of Guam. Both lived through the Great Depression and World War II. My maternal uncle was part of the Normandy landing. I relished Tom Brokaw’s book The Greatest Generation.
Those who experienced the Great Depression, like my mother, saved everything
, as evidenced by the remnants of rationing books I found in her boxes of “keepsakes.” They saved because they “might need it” and to remember the past.
I grew up with a healthy respect for patriotism and the ability to make it through “hard times.” I am the first in my family to complete a baccalaureate degree. My parents were doubly proud when I completed a master’s degree in nursing. They both had dreams that were left behind because of the need to survive. They sacrificed for their children without complaint. I grew up knowing that I was loved unconditionally.
My heart is heavy today because I see the patriotism that I was taught morphing into something that is not the pure love of God, country and fellow man my parents demonstrated. As Americans we are to love democracy itself and the processes and foundation that make it democratic in nature. Political parties may be necessary evils but they are not the source of who we are as Americans. We are not to love individual men who are in leadership roles as we blindly overlook their actions. We are to remember that the will of the people is the ultimate decisive force in who holds office in the executive and legislative branches of government. Citizens are to accept the results of elections gracefully.
I grieve for the reality that racism is still alive and well in our country. When Jesus spoke John 3:16, he did not speak it only to folks with light-colored skin. He said:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV
In fact, Jesus’ bodily form was of Middle Eastern heritage, so he did not have a fair complexion. Would we have pre-judged him or Paul or the other apostles simply on the color of their skin? Would we have considered them somehow “less than” us because of their heritage? Slavery, brought early on to the North American settlement that became the United States, haunts us. After 400 years we are still struggling to expunge the memory of that sin from our Christian consciences. We just can’t face up to the reality of the skeleton in the closet. Although we may not actively persecute people of color, we harbor in our hearts feelings of distrust and unease when we view their accomplishments. I celebrate vice-president elect Kamala Harris as both a woman and a woman of color to break that glass ceiling. Do you?
I was also brought up believing in a “Golden Rule.” It is strong in Judeo-Christian teaching. Jesus said:
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 NIV
I am obligated to present the idea that (1) wearing a mask, (2) social distancing, (3) cleaning hands regularly, are all ways to fulfil this command. We are mandated to wear seat belts. We are mandated to pay taxes. We are mandated to follow traffic laws. And we do. Why is a mandate to wear a face mask and avoid large gatherings so onerous? Sure, I’m tired of these restrictions. But I’m still going to do anything and everything to protect myself, my loved ones, and my fellowman. I can do without a huge family Thanksgiving this year in order to be able to give thanks for a healthy family two weeks later.
Thank you for sharing in the ramblings of my heart and mind and soul today. Life is hard. But I long to be surrounded by more people like those of the Greatest Generation. I am afraid we Americans have become soft and spoiled and self-centered. I’m trying to focus outward not inward. Perhaps the key to becoming another Great Generation is found in the “Greatest Commandment.”
Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Matthew 22: 37-39 NIV
Will anyone join me?
One thought on “A Less-than-Great Generation? . .”
Heartfelt and beautifully written! I also recall the commitment of those we had such privilege of knowing from the “greatest generation” and their sincere desire to do their part (and help others who could not) to make world better.
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