What will I leave behind?

By | April 9, 2018 6:16 am

Last Updated: April 9, 2018 at 6:18 am

The Right Stuff – By Donald Holman

The baby boom generation now numbers around 76 million and is about 25 percent of the United States population. Boomers are generally considered those born from 1946 to 1964, the 19 years usually called the “baby boom.” We (I was born in 1959) were raised by the children of the Great Depression and the Greatest Generation. We were 40 percent of the electorate in the latest election and voted 53 percent for Trump, 2 percent more than voted for Romney four years previously. With the youngest boomers in their early 50s and the oldest pushing 70, and the millennial population exceeding us by a few million, we only have a few more years to put our mark on the history of this country.

We were the last generation to be born without the benefit of birth control. I had whooping cough and measles as a child, but I also remember lining up in grade school for the polio vaccine. I remember with Mom and Dad we visited one of his better off parishioners, in Georgia. They had just installed this new thing called central heat and air. I remember Dad remarking in the car on the way home to Michigan that this central air might go OK in Georgia, but places like Michigan would use it so seldom they would never spend the money to install it. The first mall, the first McDonald’s, the first White Castle, laptops, iPhones – so much has changed.

Many of the basic truths endure. We once shared a common heritage, a belief that hard work, playing by the rules, and doing right would, in the end, win out. We were taught to admire those of accomplishment. Our fathers and mothers pointed to successful men and women and told us, “Keep your nose clean and work hard, and you can be just as successful as they.” We could quote little pieces of the King James Bible, the only one there was. We knew the story of the prodigal son, the good Samaritan, the golden rule, and the crucifixion. That is not to say we lived up to all this, but we all had a sort of standard to hold ourselves and others to and a touchstone for our common culture. These are the standards I think of when people speak of a Judeo-Christian heritage. And who, believer or non-believer, could argue with the ideal of treating others as themselves?

We used to pride ourselves in plain speaking and speaking truth to power. Not so much anymore. At the age our fathers and grandfathers were fighting and dying all over the world in WWII, “snowflakes” must have a “safe space” to hide from hard truths in the unusual event they are spoken. These days, one is hard pressed to keep up with the latest politically correct term for many facets of our society. “Illegal aliens” are now “undocumented workers;” we are not a “melting pot,” we are a “salad bowl.” The list is endless and ever changing. Is it any wonder we, as a society, are so woefully unprepared to make the hard choices life demands when we cannot even discuss them honestly?

I can remember when I would come to my Dad with some plan to make money or buy something his first words were   always, “Have you put the pencil to it?” These days you more often hear, “Is there a grant for that?” I had a girl in my office trying to see whether or not she could afford another child. She figured if she cancelled her insurance before she became pregnant, she would be covered 100 percent by programs such as CHIP and TennCare and such, rather than 80 percent under her insurance. When I started thinking about buying a house, I had to save the down payment and closing cost. I had to have a stable work history of at least three years. Is it any wonder we had a housing market crash with zero down, low doc or no doc loans? These buyers had nothing to lose and had never developed a habit of saving that would have allowed them to enjoy and keep their new home. On and on we could go. A lot of things have changed and mostly for the better. But my father used to say, “A bird never flies so high that he doesn’t have to land.” We have furnished opportunity without requiring responsibility and our nation is the poorer for it – literally.

The WWII generation that raised us was almost evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. But the Democrat Party then was a far cry from the one we see now. In 1963, President Kennedy called for a supply side tax cut. On Jan. 20, 1961, President Kennedy famously asked, “ And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” Can we imagine these things being said in the modern Democrat Party? Our forebearers might have been evenly split between the parties, but they were not so evenly split otherwise. Back then, both parties agreed on so many of the basics that disagreements would end at the “water’s edge.” They both at least gave lip service to the idea that deficit spending was a bad thing – and on and on. Where has all that unity gone?

It reminds of me of the story about a farmer who was sitting in his vehicle with his wife. A young couple came out of the church, and as they got in their car, she slid over next to him. The farmer’s wife remarked, “Why don’t we do that any more?” The farmer replied, “I haven’t changed where I sit!” The modern Republican Party, by and large, believes in the same ideals it always has, even though modern Republicans do not seem to have the courage of their convictions. Can the same be said of Democrats?

My father, preacher James T. Holman, in my youth said that politics should stay out of the church. But as the Democrats moved further and further to the left, he finally could hold his tongue no more. As he saw it then, and that was more than a decade ago, the Democrat Party had turned against Christians in many ways. It is even more true today. While the Democrats claim a mandate from the Bible for taking over charitable deeds in the name of government, no such calling comes from the Bible. The Bible called on the church, not the government, to help the needy, care for the poor and elderly, etc. When Bro. Smith cares for the needy in his community, he knows which are truly needy and which are not. The same cannot be said for a government far removed from the problems in our towns and cities.

So my fellow baby boomers – here we are. We are at this moment in time, the most powerful voting block in our country. We vote at about a 69 percent rate, even though 75 percent of us are registered to vote. We are shuffling off this mortal coil and in just a few years will be eclipsed in voting power by the millennials. We inherited a country with a low national debt, a strong economy, and a strong national identity. We shared many beliefs and ideals that had united this country since its founding. We have but a few years left to us to influence the world we leave behind. I leave you with words from a different time and place, by a President named Lincoln, but in the same American spirit of our founding:

“It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

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