I was reading this post by my friend, Sandy, the other day entitled Will Hate Win? It got me thinking about how each generation faces something that makes a parent cringe with fear. When I watch the news I wonder how is this the world I am raising my child in? How do I teach her to live a life without fear, when I have to teach her not to let her friend take a photo and put it on Instagram?We see a killer spend an hour in a church before he shoots nine worshipers with the intent to start a race war. We see our soldiers coming home with PTSD. We see bars on windows. We read horrific events of parents killing their children. We see events happening in the world and wonder when did it all go askew.
My grandparents were children of the depression, two World Wars, witnessed genocide and the bombing of Pearl. The suffered thru famine and watched as the Korean War soldiers came home to become known as the forgotten war, but one they never could forget. There was child labor and deplorable working conditions. They were the generation of Hitler, Capone, Mussolini, Hoover and McCarthy.
They thought this was the worse it could be. I am sure they thought how did their world come to be a place of fear, war and hunger?
My parents were children of the H-bomb, when they thought the atomic bomb was the worse they would ever have to fear. They lived through desegregation and the Boston race riots. They witnessed the Bay of Pigs and the travesty of Vietnam. They did not understand how My Lai could happen. They marched for Civil and Equal rights. They watched their President assassinated on live television. They were heartbroken when students were killed on campus colleges. They are the generation of Nixon, Rosenberg, Ruby, Oswald and Manson.
They thought this is the worse it could be. I am sure they thought how did their world come to be a place of fear, war and distrust?
I am a child of the Cold War, the hostages of Iran, a boycott of Olympics and Marines that were bombed by suicide. I am the generation of Tiananmen Square, Chernobyl, famine in Ethiopia and the invasion of the Falklands. I watched in my school auditorium as the Space Shuttle exploded and the lights went dark. Twenty years later I watched in horror as planes crashed into office buildings, farmland and the Pentagon. I saw the shock and awe campaign on television during the first Gulf War and witnessed friends come home from both Gulf Wars and cringe as a car backfires. I remember Rodney King, Ryan White and Harvey Milk. I am the generation of Khomeini, Hussein, Hinckley and Gaddafi.
I think this is the worse it could be. I think how did my world come to be a place of fear, war and terror?
My children have been raised in a world where 9/11 happened after an attack on the Cole. They are participants in lock down drills after Sandy Hook and watch on TV as a police officer shoot an unarmed black man as he ran away. Their decades will be remembered for school, movie theater and church massacres. They are the generation of Mohammed, Choi, Hassan, and now Roof.
Their generation is not even grown yet. When it is, will they wonder how their world became a place of fear, war and massacre?
Yet with all the tragedies there is hope.
My grandparents were also the witnesses of child labor reform, the invention of antibiotics, the first radio broadcast, the first woman vote and Olympic games. They were the generation of Hank Aaron, Bob Hope, FDR, Amelia Earhart and Lydia Taft.
My parents were the witnesses of the first TV broadcast, the first man in space, the microwave and the Peace Corps. They were the generation of Johnny Carson, the Kennedy’s, Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Jacques Cousteau, Ruby Bridges and Margaret Thatcher.
I have been the witness to the Wall falling, the invention of the internet, “We are the World” and Earth Day. I am the generation of Nelson Mandela, Sally Ride, Bryant Grumble, Sandra Day-O’Connor and Princess Diana.
My girls have been witness to education reform, the invention of the WIFI and the iPhone. They are the generation of President Obama, Bono, Rear Admiral Lillian Fishbourne, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Malala.
I hope that my girls, like me, think that everything was perfect when they grew up. I hope that they take the perfection and make it better for the next generation. In truth we all had some perfect part of our generation. Looking back we had as many advances as we did tragedies. Every generation has their hero, in their own color and gender. Every generation wants to leave a legacy of good. We want to leave the world better than we found it.
But we are failing in tragic ways that cannot be glossed over by the newest big thing. We have to do more to outdistance the wrongdoings of a few. One man in my grandparents generation almost wiped out an ethnic group. Yet it wasn’t one man, just one man who was followed. Each generation since then has had that “one” person who was charismatic enough for tragedy to follow.
My belief is we need more true heroes to follow. We need to make a determination to follow the Kings of this world and not the Koresh’s. We should not rewrite or hide our history. The people of this world have to acknowledge that racism, hatred and ignorance exists and be determined to not wipe them out but educate them out.
Forty years later, these discussions should not be repeating. We are not learning. It saddens me that we have not learned that all are created equal. It hurts my heart when I see how women are treated in not just other countries, but this one. It damages our soul when we see children abused. In 1981 Sandra Day-O’Connor’s appointment should have eliminated the glass ceiling. In 1990, Matthew Sheppard’s murder should have stopped people being killed or discriminated against for their sexuality. In 1991 Rodney King’s beating should have stopped police brutality once and for all. In 1996 Kathy Lee’s child labor scandal should have eliminated the practice of sweat shops.
I am sure my Grandmother would have said the same thing with the laws that were passed in her generation. So when does it stop? When do we stop killing our planet with disease and unrest?
I don’t know the answer (obviously), but I do know at that time I will think everything felt perfect the moment that we stopped the outrage for good of all.
This is how I finished (or adapted?) this week’s Finish that Sentence Friday prompt, “Everything felt perfect the time that….” brought to you be the fabulous