Recently, I finished the book, The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw. Heard a lot about the book but never bothered to read it. It was in a box of books I bought in an online auction, so it seemed like a good opportunity to read it. It begins with telling the story of the lives of men and woman just prior to World War II and follows them through the war and afterward. The vast majority of the people were ordinary folks with a few celebrities and politicians in the final chapters.
Mr. Brokaw writes about the patriotism and commitment these people held for our country. There was racism against African Americans, Asian people and Native Americans. Women were ill-treated as well. All of these people were treated as second class citizens, yet they were very patriotic. Their way of life and beliefs were in danger. When the war ended, most of them came home to restart their lives with a devotion to their family, commitment to friendships created during the trying times of war, a strong dedication to employment and the community they lived in. He does not mention religion very often, but it seems most of them also had a desire to live their lives based on a belief in God. Lives were lived based on lofty standards!
Being a child of that generation, the book brought back thoughts and memories about my childhood. Many of these memories are good because of the lofty standards and principles but yet there is sadness because the values of today do not seem all that lofty. Each morning school started with the pledge of allegiance. Hats were always removed during the National Anthem, and everyone was on their feet. It seems now we are never sure what will happen. The radio station in my car is tuned to Duck 93.3. Each day at noon some grade school class in the area repeats the pledge of allegiance followed by a recording of the National Anthem. That’s great!!
For my generation, the big changes started in the 60’s. In 1962 the Supreme Court took prayer out of public school. American flag burnings to protest the war in Viet Nam became acceptable, other protests against the “establishment” occurred and there was a noticeable increase in drug use. Cults begin to flourish. Racial issues continued to grow.
The 1970s are remembered as an era about women's rights especially as abortion was made legal. Gay rights came to the forefront. My memory is that people living together without marriage was wide spread and acceptable.
The 1980’s biggest issues were the rise of AIDS; abortion became more of a political battle and cable channels invaded our TVs. MTV and other like channels brought on moral issues. Movies became more risqué.
The 1990’s found divorces growing the number of single parent families. Kay taught four-year-old kindergarten in a Christian private school. In her class of fifteen students, seven came from broken homes. The previous trends of the generations continued to expand.
For me, the 2000’s continued the past trends expanding and becoming even more acceptable. Gay marriage, the birth of children outside of marriage, and the continuation of decaying morals is still rising.
In the final chapters, Mr. Brokaw uses a quote from former Senator Daniel Inouye: “The one time the nation got together was World War II. We stood as one. We spoke as one. We clenched our fist as one, and that was a rare moment for all of us.” Unfortunately, I don’t think a book about a great generation will be written about my generation. As our differences expand, we don’t seem to do anything as one!
Keep in mind these are the memories and thoughts of a 71+ year old. Your memories of the generations may be different, but I believe you will agree that overall the nation has moved further away from God. Many of our political leaders are now making a huge push for us to become a socialist country. I believe many of the tenets of Marxism/socialism are against the Gospel teachings.
Romans 13:1-2 “Every Christian ought to obey the civil authorities, for all legitimate authority is derived from God’s authority, and the existing authority is appointed under God. To oppose authority then is to oppose God, and such opposition is bound to be punished.” I’ve read a number of commentaries about these verses over the years and must admit the lack of a clear understanding. Many times I look at our leaders and ask God “Why him or her?”.
One of my former bosses told me to never present him with a problem without presenting possible solutions as well. I’ve stated what I see as a problem so in keeping with Bill’s instructions, the only solution that includes me is to hold very tightly to my Christian principles and pray. It does not seem that most of our government leaders lean on God for guidance. It’s apparent they feel they possess all the wisdom needed. We need God’s intervention, and my prayers are for that daily!
Hopefully, we can return to the style of the Greatest Generation. They were far from perfect, but I believe life was much better.