Pardon us if we go all Pollyanna on you, but the times we are living through right now are not all that bad. And there is a payoff because in the end, we will be stronger and more resourceful and our country will be better for having survived it all.
Do we dare predict we will emerge as the second coming of the Greatest Generation?
Stop scoffing! We have been through a lot and just maybe it has taught us what is wrong in our world so we can supply the fix. Simple, right?
The next sound you hear will be Pollyanna slamming the door on her way out.
The way we see it, there are three things on our generation’s “to-do list” before we can call ourselves “great” or “the greatest.”
Let’s call them the Trifecta of Plagues – COVID-19, Normalized Organized Racism and Governance by and for the Naked King. All are sickening.
First is COVID-19. It has given us the valuable experience of “doing without” and “doing with what we have,” which taught us personal resourcefulness, and by wearing masks, we look like the kind of people willing to stop the virus’ spread. Those who do not mask themselves look like Typhoid Mary.
How do we match up with the Greatest Generation? On the homefront, Americans accepted rationing and recycling as the patriotic thing to do and did not grumble about losing their freedom then proving it by defying air raid drills by turning on all the lights in the house.
Second is Normalized Organized Racism. We have seen uniformed authority snuff out a life by a blue serge knee pressed for 8 minutes on the neck of a black man. Police assaults and the killing of people of color have become common. No news flash there. But are we the generation that will shine the light on organized racism?
Will we carry on what the Civil Rights Movement began? What the sons of and daughters of the Greatest Generation died for? Say their names – King, Kennedy, Chaney, Goodman, Schwerner.
Will we see to it that Black Lives Matter becomes more than a rallying cry, but a truth that changes hearts and minds and a driver of U.S. policy and protections?
The signs of change are everywhere. The Confederate flag and memorials to heroes of the Confederacy are now coming down from their pedestals in parks and buildings all over the South.
Third is Governance by and for the Naked King. On a daily basis, we have watched our beloved country humiliated on the world stage by a dubious “leader” whose erratic claims and bad behavior we would not tolerate in our own children and for whom we would seek professional help and an intervention.
Are we the sort of people who recognized tyranny at the upper levels of government and vote it out of office? Or will we mimic the German people who knew what was going on in the labor camps next door but who chose willfull ignorance.
The original Greatest Generation survived the Great Depression and World War II then came home to build a new middle class and “chicken in every pot” economy.
That generation lived to see the end of polio, measles, mumps, chicken pox, whooping cough and a long list of cures based on science, not by hoping them away.
What we do right now to cure our ills is how history will judge us. But do we have the stamina to find the cures for what plagues us?
This is our moment. What will we do with it? Will we be the Greatest Generation Part 2 or the Generation of the Same Old, Same Old?