Easter Sunday – 4/12/20
I noticed this sign on a front lawn Easter Sunday afternoon. It caught my attention, such that I pulled over and took a picture of it to illustrate the message it inspires in these words. When I arrived at my parent’s house, I went straight for the bookcase and lifted my father’s copy of the “The Greatest Generation”, by Tom Brokaw. It was the first thing that came to mind from this image. In light of current circumstances, World War II and Depression Era sentiments would certainly provide a strong dose of meaningful perspective, the likes of which we are unfamiliar. The insights in this book embrace the very essence of the spirit we can reference right now. The level of sacrifice and selfless courage conveyed on its pages paint a portrait of a time in history likely far more challenging than we face right now. Time will tell. The longer we live, the more life becomes a history lesson. The faster we advance into the future, the more vital it becomes to circle back in hindsight. As we drift further into uncharted waters, we are reminded of the need for proper context that can guide us forward.
Capturing this photo, I pictured the owner inside the house watching me from the front window. I hoped they saw me. I hoped they took it as a sign of reverence and a heeding of their message. A tipping of the cap to their generation for all they have done for us and ours. For all the division and strife surfacing daily, what if we addressed it with more of their approach to today’s challenges? What would that look like?
Notice the demeanor of WW II Veterans. They have a certain presence about them that puts us at ease. A quiet confidence that can only be attained by overcoming adversity in the face of immense odds. What I’m referring to is very subtle, but unmistakable. Above all, they have enormous perspective. Many of their brothers never made it home. For all the unthinkable hardships endured, they have an inner calm and a peace about them. The kind of qualities exhibited by individuals acting as part of a larger collective with no regard for reward, credit or personal gain. We could absorb their message and use it to fuel our ability to address the challenges we now face. With references being made to the Great Depression, our highest calling could become our duty to serve each other as a society. Modeling this example can only be executed by selflessly acknowledging this lurking reality and recognizing all that we can accomplish if we work together.
On the surface, we can take this a step further. Would it be safe to say we ALL have enormous respect and gratitude for the Greatest Generation and all they have sacrificed for our well-being? Let’s take that as a resounding YES. Something we can all agree on. What this could be, is merely the first example of how we can establish common ground to draft a blueprint for the type of cooperation needed to survive, grow and evolve as we face the challenges ahead.
Embodying this example, it is possible to trace each of our contentious relationships and differences back to the basics of what we CAN agree on. We can then co-author the story from that point moving forward with shared compromise. Think about it this way, we have an opportunity to come together as a community for the first time since 9/11, and honor ALL who have preceded us in the process, by following their lead. This can be the needed push for us to justify doing the heavy lifting we’ve been neglecting for far too long. If this sounds unrealistic or improbable, it just may be. Would it be easy? Probably not. Nothing worthy of leaving a mark on history ever is. Ask The Greatest Generation. And then thank them for demonstrating to us what is possible under even the most dire circumstances…
“Don’t ask why, ask what’s next?”