Thanksgiving Looking Forward

'Thanksgiving 2010' photo (c) 2010, tinaxduzgen - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

To all my American friends, Happy Thanksgiving!

I’ve been having some deep thoughts about traditions lately, and I’d like to share a picture with you.

The first Thanksgiving was truly gratitude for getting through a hard winter and gratitude for a harvest. It was looking back and seeing how God had provided. But I don’t think it was ONLY looking back. It was also looking forward. “We’ve come this far, people! God will take us further! Look what He has given us! He will continue to provide for our families.”

And that’s what it was–it was this dream that God would provide for the families that He has given us.

I think, by and large, that many of the generations have forgotten that dream.

Let me paint you a picture of the generation that came before us, and then conclude with a warning for ourselves.

The Baby Boomer generation had the best parents in the world. They had parents who had lived through the Depression. They had parents who had defeated evil in World War II. They had parents who had clung together and fought against all kinds of hardship. And those parents wanted to pass on benefits to their children. Unfortunately they did that largely without passing on faith, which was a big mistake.

Now the Baby Boomers have proven to be the most selfish generation in history. They abandoned faith and embraced humanism. “It’s all about me!”. Free love, free sex, everything is about being true to yourself. Even if that meant throwing out your marriage–or never getting married at all. You shouldn’t stay with your spouse or kids if it doesn’t feel right to you. The worst thing you can do is to not honour yourself.

And so they threw off the trappings of family, and the divorce rate skyrocketed (I know; I was one of the early victims). But being out for yourself didn’t just impact what they did in their families; it also impacted how they voted. And how did they vote? They voted for tons of money for seniors. They voted for tons of social programs. They voted for high public pensions. They insisted on unsustainable pensions in their own industries. They tapped into unions, which fought based on seniority, not merit, making sure that future generations wouldn’t enjoy the same benefits they did.

And now, when governments are completely cash strapped becuase of all of these things Boomers voted in for their own benefit, Boomers are continuing to vote for those programs, so that the country (and my own country of Canada) can’t have a reasonable conversation of how we will cut spending. In the United States, the debt per every man, woman and child is now at almost $50,000. And Baby Boomers will largely receive the benefits of that money; the rest of the generations will pay it.

Because they vote in such large numbers, there is really very little that we can do to reverse this. Their generation was spoiled by their parents, raised to throw off their faith and look out only for themselves, and they did a very good job doing it. They eradicated morality. They rejected marriage. And they tried to get all the money they could, even if it hurt their kids.

We are their kids (at least I’m assuming most of my readers are). Now, I know that not all Baby Boomers were awful. Of course not. Many of us have wonderful parents. But as a generation, this is what happened. And so we are the next generation. We are the ones who will have to pay for the Baby Boomers, while still trying to maintain a life for ourselves and our children. What lessons should we learn?

First, trying to benefit yourself, at the expense of others, ruins society. It ruins families. And it ruins your own soul. The quintessential movies of the Boomer generation, like Wall Street, or Pretty Woman, are very empty ones.

We should not try to gather everything for ourselves. We should share it. Isn’t that what the natives did on the first Thanksgiving? We should look not to how much we can get, but to how we can be responsible and generous.

Second, we need to see that it is family and faith that holds the country together, not money. We’ve been trying to hold it together with social programs, and government intervention, and it doesn’t work. We need to return to family and faith. When you believe in family, when you are tied to your children, when you believe there is a God, then you will look to the future. You will care about what happens after you. When it’s all about you, then you don’t. And you wreck society.

Our generation should not turn around and try to exercise payback on our parents, or try to get everything we can for ourselves, either. We shouldn’t respond by being greedy. We should respond by being responsible. What have the Baby Boomers wrought? So, so many will live lonely lives in retirement, separated from children, on second or third marriages, with little but their pensions.

I would rather sit around a big table and thank God for His provision, even if it wasn’t as huge as we had wanted it to be. Because when we are with family, that provision is always enough.

Thanksgiving doesn’t just point us back. With its emphasis on faith and family, it points us forward. Our generation must pick up the mantle and remember that, because our parents’ generation has forgotten it. Let’s not copy them. Let’s forge a new path, and reclaim what was good–and what still is good–about the life God has given us.

I would like to end with a very short video made from someone in my children’s generation. It sums up this whole dilemma beautifully. PLEASE watch to the end.

Comments

  1. Wow, Tough topic and hard words to say. You tackled it well! I’m surprised that you don’t have mroe comments on this. I haven’t watched the video yet (hubby is gaming so I better not right now tee hee) but glad that I’m not the only one who feels this way. And all we can do is live and raise our children to take care of eachother. We really do need to learn to be interdependent!

    • I know, Tessa! I don’t know why this one doesn’t have comments, either! I thought it was pretty good :).

      The video is awesome. Just watch it. I’m trying to figure out how to write a column out of this piece without offending the bulk of my readers (who are, of course, Baby Boomers). Hmmmm.

  2. Fantastic post. And it really hits the nail on the head. I see it in my in-laws especially. They are the buy now and someday figure out how to pay for it, generation. Whereas my husbands Grandparents are the ones who lived through hardship and if you work hard, then you get rewarded.

    My generation is the “give me give me and I deserve”. We are working on making our children more like our grandparents.
    Lacey G recently posted…On this very dayMy Profile

  3. Sheila–I am thinking you probable don’t have as many comments because readers just haven’t had a chance to read. This is an awesome post, and gives me much to think about! The video is great!
    Kim recently posted…The paths of lifeMy Profile

  4. Great write up Sheila. We need to go back to family and faith. That’s the only way we can continue to be a great country.

    • Thanks, Ollie! What worries me, though, is that the next generation coming doesn’t have a good model of what family and faith looks like. Even if they want to return there, will they have the tools? We need to be doing much more to teach people!

  5. I love this! Thanks for posting!

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  1. […] I wrote this week, which you may have missed because of Thanksgiving. I was quite proud of my Thanksgiving post. It’s not too late to read it; it’s more a social critique. But I haven’t had a […]

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