Sunday, March 22, 2009

Greatest Generation

Happy Spring!

May it be so where you are.

I've often pondered the term "greatest generation" made a household word by Tom Brokaw's books on the Americans who fought in World War II and the ones at home who came together as a nation to bear that sacrifice and keep the effort going. It was an enormous undertaking against enormously evil war, ideology and destruction. We can never repay that effort, but we can certainly re-invest the gifts that the effort gave us all. Or, we can throw it all away...

A few years ago I traveled to Penn Yan, NY to set up a machine, calibrate it and train the folks at Penn Yan Aero Service to operate it. Next year, I went back to re-calibrate and recertify them. They are on their own now and doing well with it. On my visits I had opportunity to stroll around this quaint central New York town named for the Pennsylvania Yankee who founded it. It's hilly farming country around Keuka Lake. Up on the high plateau to the north of town are large settlements of simple Christian farm families, some of whom still travel by horse and buggy. Others have adopted the internal comubstion engine but not rubber tires. I saw very late model John Deere diesel tractors on farms, and most of the tractors had enclosed cabs with heaters, perhaps even air conditoning. But they all had the oddest thing--locally fabricated steel wheels, front and rear. Rubber tires would be "hochmutig", pretentiuous.

In a Penn Yan memorial park there is the obligatory statuary and memorial to war dead, and the rusted WWII Howitzer with scratched, faded oilve drab paint and cracked rubber tires. And then there is the sobering statistic on a plaque. 2,000 residents of Yates County served in the Civil War--at a time when the population was about 20,000. One of every 10. In some households, it was every male member above the age of 14. Over 600,000 died in that war. For what?

My generation, the Vietnam Generation, has often been maligned as being weak, misguided, disloyal, for asking why the war being fought was being fought, for asking where we were going, for refusing to fight in it, and for also fighting and dying in it. Three times as many as died in the war later died by their own hand via suicide as a result of the war. We weren't wrong to question. We failed to question enough.

And the Greatest Generation who were then in charge of the war and our country had no answers and no solutions. Even the rightest people can get it wrong sometimes.

But in my book, the title Greatest Generation will much more aptly be bequeathed to the Amercians who are today under the age of 35, IF...

IF they can look at the fiscal mess we are in globally and find a way through it that doesn't lead to the collapse of civilization and World War III.

IF they can do this while at the same time dealing with global warming, climate change and the collapse of world ecosystems in a drastically overpopulated and exhausted world.

IF they can do all this and avert famines and plagues.

That's a lot to ask. I suggest we start praying for our children and start talking with them about the great things they will need to do by beginning now.

It seems impossible to do some days. It is impossible unless we take the first step: STARTING WHAT WE NEED TO DO.

What do YOU think that is?


Pastor Roger

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