“This” Generation

I’ve been a teacher for almost 40 years. I am as old as dirt and have been working with teenagers (or mothering them) for probably half my life. So I think I can say with some authority and experience that, yes, young people today are dealing with far more stress than I ever experienced as a child, or than the teenagers I worked with 30 years ago ever dealt with.

My sons were 9 and 7 when 9-11 happened – old enough to understand and remember and incorporate that into their history. School shootings have become so common now that they’ve actually invented bullet-proof shelters for classrooms. Bullying on social media is not something the people of my generation EVER had to deal with. The anxieties and stresses of the young people I work with are very real. They’ve lost friends to suicide. They’ve lost friends to drug overdoses. I’ve had at least two students whose fathers were deported to Mexico – and they may never see their fathers again.

To smugly stereotype an entire generation, and to discount their very real struggles, seems ignorant and uninformed to me.

If children are speaking out against bullying – against bigotry and hate and sexism and racism and homophobia – well, good for them! That’s not being “PC” – that’s not being “whiney” – that’s being brave.

An Upright Generation

… he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper… Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
– Psalms 

“What are the things that you can’t see that are important? I would say justice, truth, humility, service, compassion, love. You can’t see any of those, but they’re the guiding lights of life.” 
– Jimmy Carter

This week I learned that Win passed away “in his sleep.” His daughter wrote to tell us that he was “happy and healthy” and that his passing was a “beautiful demonstration of the Science that he loved.” Win was a month away from 96 at the time of his passing, so it wasn’t really surprising to get this news. But I feel his loss, just the same.

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Winston Banko, 1920 to 2016

Oddly, he and his late wife, Connie, had been a lot on my mind recently. A more charming couple you would never meet. They sparkled. Win was witty and smart and dashing – renowned for his ornithological studies (click here to learn more about Win’s life) . Connie was lively and pretty and fun. They both had a great sense of humor and wonderful laughter, and I never left their company without a smile on my face and a heart warmed by their kindness.

I’d met them when I moved to this area more than thirty years ago and began attending the local Christian Science church. They were among my first friends here. I immediately took to them. They were of my parents’ generation and shared a remarkably lot in common with my parents – they, like my parents, were avid nature-lovers. Like my parents, they were cultured, and well-read, and had a wonderful sense of humor about life. All of them had survived the Great Depression, and Win and my dad (click here to learn more about Dad’s life) had both served in World War II. When I’m with people of that generation I always feel safe and secure – I know I’m with people who have survived times of great upheaval and challenge and have come through these times wiser and braver and kinder. The people of my parents’ generation have always seemed invincible to me, somehow. 

But they’re leaving us now. My dad will be 98 in another month. My mom is not too far behind him. And I guess it’s time for my generation to move to the helm of the ship, but… yikes, right?! I don’t think I’m ready for The Greatest Generation to leave us just  yet. I want them to hang around with us a little longer and help us get through the challenges looming on our national horizon. 

Yup. I have to admit that there’s a wistful part of me that would like to see The Greatest Generation’s Jimmy Carter run for President again. Now THERE is an upright man…

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