Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sharing Across the Ages

Carol Howard Merritt, author of Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation explains that when she works with intergenerational groups she often asks people to consider the following questions:
 “What sort of political, religious, economic, and social movements defined your generation? What events did your generation go through that made you who you are?”
This blog post is what I expect to be the first in an indefinite series of responses to those questions.  I hereby issue an invitation to any member or friend of the church who wishes to write to those questions to do so and send them to me for posting here on the TallahasseeUU.  I’ll also be asking people of all ages to take time to write their responses. 
Robin Gray responds:
I was born not so many years after WWII ended.  Lingering distrust of Germans and Japanese prompted our church to bring to America young adults from those countries.  A young German woman stayed with my family for a few weeks one year, and our congregation brought a young Japanese woman to work with the children’s program.  Still, the neighbors down the street, who were Jewish, shuddered at the thought of the little German car, the Volkswagon, that was gaining popularity in the U.S.  Seeking healing from that war, one I didn’t remember, was a recurring theme. 
We were not fettered by austerity during the post-war years.  A VA loan made it possible for my parents to buy a house, and with that a piece of the American dream. My mother didn’t work outside the home until I was in my teens, and my father’s one income with lots of overtime took care of our needs.  
The Korean Conflict, as it was called, spanned my early youth.  Then, it was replaced by the Civil Rights struggle down South (I was a Northerner, born and bred).  The struggle was chronicled on the evening news: children set upon by dogs, hoses turned on peaceful protesters. The same freedoms for which my parents generation fought WWII were denied to countless American citizens.  Watching a black and white TV, we witnessed a deep travesty of justice, anathema to the liberal Christians like us, but, it seemed that half the country didn’t care. 
The assassinations of four leaders representing change and progress ushered me in and out of high school.  President John F. Kennedy.  Martin Luther King, Jr.  Malcolm X. Robert Kennedy.  From my perspective the American people had been cheated out of a brighter future with each death. 
In those years, the war in Vietnam flickered onto the stage, bringing with it nightly newscasts of death and destruction. The Cold War cast its own pall on America’s future, and fear of Soviet missiles crept into classrooms. The student protests against the war in Vietnam swirled around me in college.  I was opposed to the war, and opposed to the tactics of the opposition.  
While my life was full of potential -- I was getting a good education after all -- I couldn’t muster up much patriotism for my homeland.  I’d grown up thinking that the wounds of WWII had been addressed in many ways, but, I couldn’t see evidence that the wounds inflicted by war in Korea and Vietnam were being addressed in any helpful way.  And, after what seemed a era of victories in Civil Rights, American injustices that touched every state and city festered without successful intervention.