Three Generational Perspectives – Youth Sunday

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please listen to the audio and check later for the other two texts. Below is the “Grandparent” homily.

As a baby boomer, I am here on my behalf, because, in the words of esteemed former UUCA minister Rev. Marti Keller: “Boomers DON’T get represented.” I came of age in a time even more politically tumultuous than the current era, though much more hopeful. I admire the speed and passion with which young folks can organize today via online means to influence popular opinion and the choices of large institutions. But I worry that something is missing from the experience if it takes place primarily in cyberspace. I am not sure what all the ways are that folks connect online these days, but I know that nothing can replace large, in-person gatherings. I can tell that both my generation and today’s millennials are committed to saving the world. Our experiences of what it means to be part of a unified world community come out of both musical and political events: we had marathon Grateful Dead concerts surrounded by folks sharing something that transcended all of us, you have Phish concerts. And, at least through this summer, the Grateful Dead. We were both shaped by large, in-person political protests, rallies and marches, gatherings in the hundreds of thousands of people.  When our generation turned 26 years old, two hundred thousand of us gathered in Washington to protest the Vietnam War. When your generation turned 28, 200,000 of you gathered in Washington for the semi-satirical “Rally to Restore Sanity” led by Jon Stewart. We can see that you all are a good measure more cynical, more wary of the work to be done, but no less committed to doing it. That’s a good thing.

One thing I cannot help but admire on the individual level for these young folks is their free-spiritedness. Millennials seem to take a lot of flak for not committing themselves to traditional career paths. I remember that New Yorker cover a few years ago that showed a college graduate moving back into her old bedroom, while her parents looked glumly on. Well, those Gen X parents may have been disappointed with their child taking time to figure things out, but I applaud that youngster’s determination to patiently find her passion and pursue her calling. We never trusted anyone over 30, and its fun to see that ethos taking hold again. We said “steal this book” and you said “steal ALLLLLL the music!”

It is not easy to eschew the usual paths to financial and familial stability. It means making your own path and building your tools to bring with you. That do-it-yourself mentality is something we always prided ourselves on, whether it was starting communal farms, bike co-ops, or tool lending libraries. Today’s hipster movement is drawing on a lot of that, directly and indirectly, by bringing back the coolness of growing and making your own food, your own clothes, your own music and art, and the communities to do these things in. Baby Boomers always very much valued the idea that we could create our own power outside of traditional institutions, whether it was Flower Power, the Power of Love, or Power to the People. Today, sources of power are popping up outside the normal avenues so quickly we can’t even keep track. The apps, movies, churches, festivals and non-profits that you all are starting have infinite potential for their own empowerment of the people. What a hopeful time.

I wonder about these differences because I have worked for so many years to make the world a better place, to leave it as best I can for my children and grandchildren. I love them and I want to see them succeed. I am grateful for the times when we can come together and share different perspectives about how to work on these goals together, whether it is around holidays, music, work or in our faith community. I will always be here to share what I have learned, and I look forward to continuing to learn from them.