Dear Baby Boomers,
Have you ever thought about the fact that the man who anchors our Christian faith was 30 when he began to rock the world?
Our children and grandchildren are around that same age, aren’t they? And like Jesus, they want to change minds and transform lives. Like Jesus, they care about the sick and marginalized. Like Jesus, they hate bigotry and hypocrisy. Like Jesus, they defend women and the poor.
It’s why they vote as they do. It’s why they march the streets and sign petitions. It’s why they argue on Facebook and at the dinner table. They want to have an impact, just as Jesus did.
Are Millennials always right in the way they go about it? Of course not. They are not actually Jesus, after all. They are actually modern Peters: determined, rash, inappropriate. They believe in biblical principles of love, reconciliation, and equity. And while they may behave in questionable ways, we have to recall that Peter whacked off an ear in his zealous defense of Christ. Even the most useful servants make mistakes.
So, fellow Baby Boomers, rather than find fault with Millennials, let’s take a good hard look at our own hearts and consider a few ways we can be helpful.
1.Recognize the limits of our wisdom: Wisdom comes with age, but so do hearing and vision problems. Young people have much to teach us about solving societal ills, especially racial tension. We love to quote MLK Jr., yet fail to realize he was only 34 years old when he delivered I Have a Dream. Our children are trying to share their dreams with us, Baby Boomers. Let’s listen.
2. Accept the new vocabulary: Remember how much our kids hated learning vocabulary words when they were growing up? Now it’s our turn to stop getting our feathers ruffled over modern semantics.
Black Americans get ruffled up by: Black on Black Crime. Welfare State. Political Correctness.
White Americans get ruffled up by: White privilege. Social Justice. Multiculturalism.
Let’s take time to understand the meaning behind these terms. Let’s open our minds to modern points of view.
3. Look at history with adult eyes: Baby Boomers, we were born between 1946 and 1964, which means our parents were perhaps born as early as 1906. They grew up in an era when it was okay to hang black men from trees; when schools were segregated; when blacks had to sit in the back of the bus. How many of us can really say “my parents narrated racial healing at the family dinner table.”
Let’s not pass on to another generation long-held prejudices our parents passed on to us. Let’s not assume that our history teachers were accurate and thorough. Let’s admit we weren’t even paying attention in history class so we need to revisit the issues.
4. Let’s own the following ways we may have failed our children:
We taught them not to see color.
We convinced them the Civil Rights Movement reversed the impact of Jim Crow.
We taught them that welfare and laziness are the real problem in the black community.
We taught them all white people are racists.
We taught them all police are bullies.
We raised them in a homogeneous church, neighborhood, or school.
We forbade interracial dating.
These failures were not intentional and we don’t have to feel guilty. We just need to feel responsible for perpetuating myths.
5. Let’s stop whining about how entitled and soft Millennials are. We raised them, remember? How much of their inability to handle opposing viewpoints is because we never exposed them to any?
6. Let’s be happy that our children and grandchildren care about the well-being of their friends. Their concern is not just political, it’s personal. Our children are defending their Muslim friends, their black co-workers, their immigrant neighbors, their white spouses, none of whom want to be lumped into any kind of basket. They also don’t want to be stopped and frisked. They don’t want to be defined by caricatures. They don’t want to be categorized as criminals. Maybe we don’t have a diverse circle of peers, but our children do. Kudos to them for loving their neighbors as they love themselves.
Hey, I realize that not every Millennial makes Christ central in their effort to impact our nation, but those who do need us. Without a Christian base of elders to offer prayer and guidance, it’s natural for them to join more secular movements that leave God out of the equation.
Baby Boomers, we have to stop balking and start talking to Millennials. And I do not mean we need to lecture them about how blessed they are. A focus on personal blessings is precisely how neighbor needs are ignored. And in this way, Millennials are not as selfish and entitled as we say they are. They realize hateful rhetoric leads to hateful deeds and they refuse to sit idly by as extremism targets every tribe, nation, and tongue.
Millennials get it, Baby Boomers. Let’s not despise their youthful ambitions. They realize that bigotry is a foe worth fighting because heaven welcomes all.
I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there—all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing:
Salvation to our God on his Throne!
Salvation to the Lamb!