A MESSAGE FOR THE
This message is directed to all the Baby Boomers who are feeling the inevitable results of a human obsession with time--that they are being put out to pasture--their usefulness over, their contributions barely remembered or appreciated, their future one of sitting on the porch watching life pass them by.
This message is to say that you are wrong. This is the time for all of us to come full circle--to remember what we once believed, to recall the emotions we once felt, to recreate the ardor that once burned within our hearts.
We are the generation that looked around and asked the ultimate questions. What if they gave a war and no one came? Where has the love gone? Where in religion is there room for spirituality? Why are we polluting and destroying the planet which is our only home?
We are the generation which made those questions even more important. We brought the world together through improved transportation and communication. We made economic isolationism obsolete. We saw that Nature has no use for our political boundaries. With our increasing technology, we showed the truth that this is one world, one people--divided only by our minds. We proved the truth of Walt Kelly/Pogo's words: "We have met the enemy, and they is us."
But we reached our parents' age. We became parents, homeowners, the ones in charge. And we lost the idealism of our youth in the midst of our responsibilities. We came to believe that material comforts compensated, that material progress blessed, that material answers sufficed. We spent a good part of our lives explaining and rationalizing and outright denying our "misspent youth." We allowed the counter-culture of drugs to overshadow the counter-revolution of thought and ideals.
At which point in our lives were we freer--were we more in touch with our essential selves--were we more attuned to reality? I suggest it was in our well-spent youth when we saw through the illusion of greed and materiality and control--when we listened to the voice inside that clearly cried out "enough"--when we sought to build a better world based on acceptance of our common humanity and our common plight--when we sought spiritual answers to spiritual questions--when we forsook the old ways to find a better and healthier path. I suggest it was in our middle life that we lost our way and succumbed to all those things we had once rejected.
The most sacred symbol is the circle. It speaks of completion, of the cyclical nature of life, of wholeness with no beginning and no middle and no end. I suggest that, perhaps without realizing it, we have come full circle--that we are where we started--that we, as a generation, have seen and experienced what no other generation has--that we have the unparalleled opportunity to return to the idealism of our youth armed with the wisdom gained in our middle years--that we have the chance to change the world as we once wanted.
From our unique perspective, we have the chance to address the problems facing our world. The global problems--Why are wars increasing in number? Why is there still hunger and famine? Why are diseases reappearing in much more virulent forms? Why can't every person have a minimum level of security? The environmental problems (which are also global)--Will the hole in the ozone layer spread? Is the planet warming up? Do we have the wisdom to deal with the threat from nuclear waste and nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons? And even if we don't fully believe these are all problems, do we have the right to ignore the possibility that they are? The interpersonal problems (which are also global)--Can we learn to accept others as our neighbors and help them to a decent standard of living? Can we refrain from attempting to solve all problems through violence in one form or another? Can we accept another person's beliefs without seeing the difference as a threat? The intrapersonal problems (which are also global)--Can we discover the reason for our existence? Can we find the peace we all so crave? Can we fulfill the spiritual imperatives that are such a part of our very being?
Make no mistake, the problems we face are daunting. As many have suggested, the change that mankind faces is nothing short of a complete reorganization of priorities and world view. But we were there once. We knew that peace comes from within. We knew that power is obligation. We knew that spiritual values are stronger and more significant than any material goal. We knew that Love conquers all. And we can know these things again.
A famous comic of our generation once joked in all seriousness about his disgust with those environmentalists who were "out to save the world." The world, he said, was perfectly capable of saving itself, as it had in the past.
The ultimate point is not to save the world, but to save ourselves from the responsibility for destroying the world, including us. It is to rise above our self-centered involvement with materiality and to see the truth behind illusion--that the inhabitants of this planet have reached the final point where they will sink or swim together. That man's technology has vastly outpaced his humanity. That only by returning to the goals and ideals of our youth will we survive the crisis of our own making.
In everything there is a critical mass which is less than the whole. Once critical mass is reached, the reaction is inevitable. I suggest that our generation is such a critical mass. That combined with those who came before us and are still here and those who have come after us who also recognize the illusion in materiality, we form the critical mass of humanity which will tip the scale toward preservation through spiritual enlightenment. We are the ones who can choose to return to the ideals we once held. We are the ones who can best show the way because we know how we strayed from the path. We are the ones who must exhibit the courage we had before.
If we do these things--if we lead to spiritual solutions to the spiritual problems we are facing--then we will have come full circle, we will provide the critical mass, and we will tip the scale toward preservation.
It is not an easy change. Which of us wants to admit we saw truth and reality at the beginning, then spent our lives lost in illusion? Which of us wants to take responsibility for making short-sighted decisions? And which of us wants to hear the correct recriminations of our children?
But the choice is ours. (Might we have actually made that choice before we were born?) Do we go kicking and screaming and full of resentment--or perhaps quiet and submissive and full of resentment--into a retirement that we never believed would come? Or do we use this time to pass on the wisdom that, of all the generations of humanity, is uniquely ours?