Lately, after what seems to be horrific social behavior or political faux pas, we offer a barrage of side criticisms. Everyone is a Monday-morning analyst.
It is eye opening to hear what we say against others–especially young people–without support for our arguments.
“It all starts in the home,” we offer as our simplistic catch-all answer to everything.
Really? That reminds me of the biblical story of the blind man whose parents were blamed for his disability.
Yes, everyone is entitled to her opinion, but how is blaming going to help our community?
This Ashanti (or African) proverb, “When you follow in the path of your elders, you learn to walk like them,” helped me as a young adult know that I was never alone.
[bctt tweet=”So instead of criticizing, I want to become an elder worth following.” username=”womenoftheelca”]
I had examples to follow even as I joined my generation in exploring war, race, sex, freedom and self-expression in ways our parents and their generation thought were dangerous.
Then there is this quote from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre who says, “The soul, fortunately, has an interpreter–often an unconscious but still a faithful interpreter–in the eye.”
We must ask ourselves: What have our children and young adults seen from and in us? And how do they interpret our actions? We have to be willing to say that, yes, we have lived a life of contradictions. We must own up to how these contradictions might have shaped them.
As part of the boomer generation, I’ve done some things I would not want the faithful interpreter—the eye of the younger generation—to see. So instead of criticizing them, I want to become an elder worth following.
I’m not ready to give up on this community and its children and grandchildren. The idea of community, love and peace was everything to my generation.
How can we open the path of communication to the younger generations and give them eyes to see that we made our own mistakes? We are learning from them, and we hope they will learn from us.
Valora K Starr is director for discipleship for Women of the ELCA.