Our older daughter, Mary Beth, when she was little, loved a book by Will and Nicolas called Perry the Imp. Perry had several slogans. One was, “Every man his own plan.” Another was “Every day a new way.” Those fit right into Mary Beth’s wheelhouse.
They did not fit as well into the plans of her young parents. But now that I am old, I see that Perry’s slogan was not so much a plan as a statement of reality.
One of my old-age frustrations is seeing the turn-back on inclusions I have worked on so hard throughout my life—inclusions for poor people and female people and homosexual people and religious people and peaceful people and colored people--in the rights and goods of society. We did make some progress on making rights and opportunities available on an equitable basis, for everyone, but now, as always, there are those who are trying to turn back the clock, say that colored people and poor people and their ilk should have fewer rights and opportunities than white people and rich people and educated people and mean people.
The key phrase in that paragraph just above is “as always.” It’s part of original sin. There will always be within each of us that “us against them” mentality, and often it will take the form of political and social legality and violence—both passive and aggressive violence—to be sure that we are included and “they” are excluded.
This is the way it is, either by God’s plan, or by no plan—this tussle between the includers and the excluders. We certainly should hope and try to make progress, and try to hold onto it when we do, but each generation of includers is responsible for going up against each generation of excluders.
We oldsters fought the battles in our generation. Only for our generation, as it turns out. Now, younger people, you must fight that battle for your generation. We’re with you. Count on us for support. But we won’t be around long. When we are gone, it’s completely up to you. May the peace and courage of Christ be with you.
CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith and Life for the Years of Winter… I started this column when we moved to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where winter is 13 months long, at the same time I was entering upon old age. So it was originally reflections “from a place of winter for the years of winter.” Now we live in Bloomington, IN, where people ask us if we are going south for the winter, and we say, “We already have.”