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Reflection: Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

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Reflection: Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation

Proverbs 30:11-14 NKJV:

11 There is a generation that curses its father,
And does not bless its mother.
12 There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes,
Yet is not washed from its filthiness.
13 There is a generation—oh, how lofty are their eyes!
And their eyelids are [b]lifted up.
14 There is a generation whose teeth are like swords,
And whose fangs are like knives,
To devour the poor from off the earth,
And the needy from among men.

Generational wars exhaust me.

First, because they feature inherent cross-cultural confusion.

Second, because they never end.

One group of people, situated in one era, inspired by one particular context, can see with nonsensical clarity the faults of another group of people, situated in another era, inspired by another particular context.

It’s two people spying on each other through a keyhole, thinking they know everything about the other’s lives.

I find the Boomers vs. Millennials debate particularly dreary because at least one elephant in the room is seldom acknowledged. This is largely just parents and their adult kids yelling at each other.

“Why are you this way, son?”

“Because you messed everything up, Dad!”

(Cue the anti-drug PSA from the 80s: “Who taught you how to do this stuff?” “You, all right? I learned it by watching you!”)

It is particularly amusing, because as a member of Generation X, I am always either ignored, mislabeled as, or expected to be an enthusiastic fan of one or the other of these two groups that demand a large cultural parking space. Which is, of course, right on brand for Gen X.

(Full Disclosure: I try to be an enthusiastic fan of everybody. Especially you. I’m rooting for you to make good choices. Don’t let me down.)

The Scripture speaks to a spirit that transcends generation.

Some people dishonor their parents, think themselves flawless, look down on others, and ruthlessly take advantage of the downtrodden and the weak.

They may be narcissistic and predatory.

They may justify selfish behavior and habitual abuse.

You may have just thought of a specific person or group. There may be a particular spirit that angers you.

I’ve got a few of my own.

Today, however, I’m just looking at the list and seeing myself.

I can see times I was dismissive of elder wisdom. I have looked at people who were generously investing in me and wondered why they were wasting my time. I have looked at people from a different era and thought I understood them better than they understood themselves. I have thought how I would have made better choices than they did. I would like to say that this only happened when I was 15. Sadly, it didn’t.

That said, I have also unfairly disparaged youthful insight as lacking gravity or perspective. And while I can often see young people not understanding life stages they haven't experienced, I also recognize they inhabit a world that I do not, and have experienced some things I will not.

I’ve self-righteously claimed to be unlike the people I was judging. From a Christian standpoint, I’ve even refined it to, "yes, I’m a sinner, but I’m not as bad as THAT guy. "Sure, I’m a hypocrite, but not as much as HER."

I’ve looked down on people. Some of them made lousy choices. Some of them may have lacked advantages I’ve had in life. With none of them did I walk a mile in their shoes.

I have taken advantage of people. Maybe it wasn’t devouring the poor and the needy. Maybe it was just rationalizing my abuse of their generosity. Maybe it was taking something offered to me that I knew someone else needed more.

As much as I would like to point to my wins, I can see my losses. For every place I was righteously mistreated, I can also find my own transgressions.

I would be lying to claim otherwise.

Now, I’m not here to generate false equivalences.

Christians will often say “all sin is equal in God’s eyes.”

I would argue this claim merits a longer discussion.

All sin is equal, vertically. Horizontally, it’s a different story.

On one hand, all sin transgresses against God, and can be forgiven through repentance.

Different crimes, however, create different impacts.

If I steal ten dollars, I can pay it back quickly.

If I steal ten million, making amends may take more time.

In a tribalized age, we often study our enemies to furiously document their crimes.

In generational conflict, we often have a lot to say about the failings of another group.

Sometimes we need to.

And sometimes we need to take a better look at ourselves.

Photo Credit: Cup of Couple

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