Within the next few days, I will finally launch my new site — while I do not consider myself a ‘world changing person,” it is possible and perhaps even probable that the idea with which I have been entrusted is world-changing in and of itself. The time for Peace, with a capital ‘P” has now arrived. Consider this a prelude. By the way, dear reader, you are the key to the success of the work I propose. It is your world. Mine life is much nearer its end than its beginning.
If you are thirty or younger, you represent half of the world’s population. You are a member of “The Rising Generation.” I apologize to you. I once believed that you were soft, that “what you need is hardship! A good war, or a Depression or something.” I was wrong. I have modified my assessment of what will serve you best, and am writing this, and doing everything I can, for you.
I, like the rest of my generation, have an obligation to you, and I intend to make good on it. Please allow me to explain. I probably won’t do a very good job, so I ask for your forgiveness in advance.
We are all children …
By far the most famous of Kahlil Gibran’s work is “The Prophet.” Gibran was a Lebanese poet born in 1883. He writes about Children (do not be offended, we are all children at one point in our lives).
Your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams …
Your world belongs to you. You will construct it, and I hope that you will do a better, more responsible job that your predecessors have done. There is a phrase that I hope you will embrace — it is Generational Awareness. Gibran captures its essence quite accurately.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
I believe there is a gossamer thread that connects not just your generation to mine, but one generation to another. I am concerned that America is getting a bum rap, and I am going to try to explain a little bit about how it came about. Then, within a few days, I will explain one old man’s dream about how you can make it better. I will do everything I can to help, but I won’t be around much longer. This one is for you.
I’ll have to take you back to when I was a teen-ager. Maybe you’ll understand how the world got to where it is now.
You may now consider the 1960’s to be ancient history. It isn’t. With the passage of time, you will develop a certain elasticity in how you view years and decades and centuries — all the eras that precede yours.
One Brief Shining Moment
There was a time when everybody in America was familiar with the phrase “one brief shining moment.” We were on “the threshold of a dream.” We could see the world becoming a far better place than it had ever been. We didn’t quite know exactly what it meant, but we believed.
Let me set the stage.
In 1960, we began more than just a new decade. General Eisenhower had completed his administration. He turned over the reins of leadership without muss or fuss; we had a handsome new President, a beautiful, glamorous First Lady, and charming First Children. John F. Kennedy was a charismatic Leader; above all, he personified our hope for the future.
People wanted to put the past behind them. Adults had stark, first-hand memories of the horrors of World War II and of the Great Depression that preceded it. Everybody knew about hardship, but those days were past. Americans and people the world over had only years before emerged from those incredibly complex, difficult, and yes, horrifying times with a firm belief that America, with its people and its land and its natural riches, with its underlying ideology and commitment to freedom, was the hope of the world.
Kennedy was a figurehead — the entire world was swept away by his inspiring words. His speeches touched our souls, and ignited an inner hope for something intrinsically better–“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” was just one of his many clarion calls … his words penetrated our hearts, minds and spirits. He spoke to an identity that lay deep within us.
This was an ‘awakening in progress.’
We had color (!) television and cars and our economy was growing rapidly. We were marrying and building new houses and moving into them with new families. We were going to the moon! Literally. The United States Space program and NASA were going to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Kennedy said it, and we believed it. The future was ours.
This new President wasn’t just an American leader — he touched the population of the entire planet. He spoke of a time that would be better and less violent and more loving and more creative and … just better all around! We could and would make it that way. The Allies had defeated Hitler, and we were done with war. Wholesale destruction didn’t solve anything. The entire world believed that together, we could and would make our planet a better place for everybody.
Back then, we didn’t have cable television or the Internet. One of the biggest sources of entertainment came from Broadway musicals. There was an explosion of musicals — it was like a celebration that WWII was over, and humans were expressing their wonderful creative prowess through dance and music. Think of it as the equivalent of “The Voice” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” One of the most popular was called Camelot. It was Kennedy’s favorite.
Camelot is the story of King Arthur, of Gwenevere and Lancelot and Mordred, all set to music. We had vinyl, 33 rpm records then, and Camelot played throughout the land. At the conclusion of the musical, as Arthur lay dying, betrayed by love and age and life, he proclaimed:
And never let it be forgot that once that there was a spot, For one brief shining moment, That was known as Camelot.
It was so sad, and so human. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were actually living through that “Brief Shining Moment.’ We thought we had reached a destination, that we had vanquished hate and destruction.
“One brief shining moment” became part of the national and international cultural dialogue–it was real and pervasive and we felt it. Then, in a few world-shattering seconds, Kennedy, and the ideals he stood for, was gone. Vanished. What happened? Where did he go?
Assassinated. The Zapruder film showed it. His brains were splattered over our beloved First Lady’s pink suit. Days later, as Jackie stood brave and grieving, clothed in black mourning, a dark evil that we thought had been vanquished penetrated our world again … it started to saturate our consciousness. IT was back. Our mirror was shattered, and we began to lose sight of who we thought we were and what we believed we could do. Doubt and discord swept over us in waves.
We began a terrible slide. Senseless and pointless slaughter — thousands of upon thousands of young men, upright and true — in Viet Nam followed. The misplaced anger at the soldiers tore the nation apart. We did not realize the wisdom of Napoleon’s dictum “There are no bad soldiers, only bad generals“). Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down, as was Bobby Kennedy. Watergate and Nixon’s impeachment followed. A lot of really bad news landed on the American and world public. A movement began that still exists today — it held that somehow America itself was fatally flawed. Not so. Not so at all.
America will return Gandalf-like (after he fought and fell and returned from his fight with the Balrog) to battle the darkness, to reaffirm that Truth and Right can, should and will prevail. I say to you:
A new Global Renaissance is within your grasp. America can and will restore her brand, and reassert the fact that freedom is humankind’s divinely appointed right. The time has come and yours is the generation that will make it happen.
It will begin very soon.
MTC — more to come.