An inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning will not be blessed in the end.
The Baby Boomers- my generation- were, in many respects, the microwave generation. Impatient with life, we often made more demands of life than offers to it. We sometimes yelled about rights and whispered about responsibilities.. We were quick to point out problems with American society, culture and institutions but seldom as inclined to offer solutions.
I guess it’s human to devalue what comes easily. We inherited unprecedented prosperity, freedom and social, economic and educational options from generations who survived the Great Depression and the World Wars, and held them to be our due rather than precious gifts obtained at a high price.
Now that I’m getting a little long in the tooth, I look at the contemporary university scene, with young people yelling about “microagressions” and perceived insults to their race, gender, class, sexual orientation, frustrated with the lack of six-figure job opportunities and often ill-prepared for the real world, it seems. I wonder: are they really as oppressed as they think they are? Or are they just spoiled?
Egads, I’m becoming my Dad. Or maybe my grandfather.
Let’s face it, boomers- weren’t we a lot like them, with our long hair and our minibuses decorated with psychedelic flowers and peace signs and our flirtation with Eastern mysticism?
Somehow the material prosperity of the post-war boom years didn’t satisfy us. It filled our bellies and clothes closets and record cabinets but left our souls hungry. So off we went, down the Yellow Brick Road, looking for the Age of Aquarius, listening raptly to maharishis and bearded prophets with electric guitars, inhaling the heady vapors of pot and protest and “free love”.
An inheritance gained rapidly… Were WE just spoiled?
I listen to the stories of a generation almost gone about the Great Depression and the War Years, and I hear an amazingly consistent theme. “They were hard years and painful years, but in a very particular way, they were very GOOD years. They put steel in our souls but velvet in our hearts. We learned to improvise, make do, scrimp and save, innovate and care for each other. We built strong families, communities and churches. Our lacks and our needs became blessings.”
The stories of shoes half-soled with scrap leather on a homemade last, of pretty little dresses made from flour and feedsack material, of victory gardens and fresh baked bread delivered to the hungry family down the way fill me with a kind of awe and wistfulness. Did our grandparents know some things we desperately need to relearn and pass on to our own children and grandchildren?
Maybe there’s a silver lining to economic downturns, unemployment, belt tightening and hardship. Maybe they afford us an opportunity to rethink priorities, let go of idols- false gods that never deliver on their glittering promises- and look for what’s really true.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, but fools despise discipline…