By Bill Norwood
Every generation has an event that tends to define them. My parents came of age in the Great Depression and World War II. They learned the frugality that was spawned by the Depression and they stepped in to protect this country which, up until Pearl Harbor, had never been challenged by other forms of governments. They sought a return to normalcy after the war to rebuild this nation and produced the “Boomer generation.”
Having been born at the beginning of World War II, I am not a Boomer. I am referred to as a Cusp Child—too young to be part of the Great Generation and too old to be a Boom Baby. My generation was defined by Vietnam. Every major decision I made was influenced by the hostilities in ‘Nam. I got student deferments to attend college and law school but was drafted a month after finishing law school. Deane and I married while I was still in law school, and she was still an undergraduate in large measure because we knew I would be drafted and perhaps killed in the war. The anti-war sentiment was so fierce that in uniform I was spit on and called a “baby killer.” The free love communes and the “mod” dress—bellbottoms and shoulder length hair—were the Boomers’ response to Vietnam. The universal draft ended without any clear resolution of the war in Southeast Asia. Eventually the politics changed so much that veterans who were shunned were apologized to by the hippies who years earlier had vilified them. We never returned as heroes who had fought for America like my parents’ generation was.
My children were too young to be defined by the spectacular moon landing and man conquering space. The Gulf War never touched a generation who were largely spectators to foreign wars. The end of the Cold War with the fall of the East Berlin wall couldn’t be appreciated by them because they were not around during the Red Scare and A-bomb drills like my generation was.
Today’s generation and my children’s generation are now defined by the events of 9/11 and the coronavirus. At no time since World War II has there been global focus on a common enemy. Like world wars, it’s a clear decision: will the virus make us better for our fight against it, or will we stay a divided country playing politics with lives and being driven by power and money?
As I have had enforced time on my hands, I have pondered that question and have come to a couple of conclusions. Historians with the benefit of hindsight may prove my conclusions or dismiss them out of hand. Nevertheless, I conclude that this shared experience will be like the Great Depression and will forge a generation to look for a better way to act and a better way to govern. Hopefully the politics of attack and personal innuendo will give way to reasoned debates between firmly held beliefs in a civilized environment. But— and this is a big but—that will only happen if people of faith are grounded in a belief in the one and only God: Father, Son, and Spirit.
I am not visualizing or advocating a theocracy or a “Christian Nation,” but I am concluding that Christians firmly founded in orthodoxy can love their enemies and those enemies can be won over to civilized discourse and a shared view of what America stands for. This current shared battle with Covid-19 can be an opportunity for the current generations to see the real and authentic Christ in his Church. And the Christ we portray is the one who listens to God in prayer, heals miraculously, reaches out to help our neighbor, and doesn’t seek his or her own glory but silently and obediently waits for the day when Jesus will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Enter into my glory.” That attitude and action can change the world we know today. And if you think that it can’t, remember twelve men in an upper room in Jerusalem have already made the way easy for this generation. After all, they carried the good news to the known world and converted it to Christianity 2000 years ago.
Nothing is too big for God.