It is amazing where and how these musings begin. In the Christian context, we might call this the direction of the Spirit. This week’s blog has two catalysts: Right to Die and Generational Tensions.
Right to Die
Initially, after an amazing conversation with a Brother-in-the-Faith, I thought this week’s blog would be entitled: Live & Let Die. The intent was to explore our conversation about the 2016 Canadian Right to Die legislation.
How might people of faith reflect on what we call pastoral theology in this regard? In particular, our faith demonstrates (sometimes) that it is in the full life-cycle that wisdom and awakening occur. If, therefore, right to die legislation allows people an opportunity – a choice – to avoid suffering and pain, what are the implications for the generational wisdom that is transferred in our living and dying?
What happens when such embodied experiences may be lessened or even no longer happen?
After this conversation, I was fairly confident what this blog would be about … but then the Spirit whispered to me again on my way to my early morning gym discipline. During the drive, the song What About Us, by Pink, was blaring (yes, my car gets loud when I am driving solo!) from Hits 1 on SiriusXM. I have always admired and appreciated Pink’s voice. Her use of beat and rhythm to transmit a message of challenge has always been apparent to me. This song only reinforces my ongoing appreciation (two versions of the song are at the end of this musing).
As the Spirit blew through my musings, as She is often wont to do, What About Us reminded me of the generational divides that are more apparent than ever in our western democracies. Whether we are talking about Brexit, the electoral turnout in the last Canadian federal election, or the shift clearly evident in the last Presidential election south of the 49th, there is a divide that should worry us. There is an us and them narrative developing that too often seems to be pitting us against one another. If the protests of the Age of Aquarius were large, the resistance and disenfranchisement experienced by those called Millennials and Gen Z are off the chart.
But how do the political undertones of Pink’s song and Right to Die legislation connect? I think both conversations highlight the implicit generational tensions. One generation is wrestling with mortality and the alleviation that technology might provide in a reality in which we are living longer than any ever before. The other generation confronts this longevity with a waiting that is frustrating and disempowering. The ensuing ageism and stereotyping is apparent throughout our consumer culture and too often we are stuck in echo chambers that reinforce assumptions and binaries. And … I think … that is the point of this awkward conversation of ours …
The Christian faith journey has always been intentional to remind those who endeavour to discipleship that if the generations are not listening to one another, not in relationship to share learning and challenge, wisdom and passion, experience and questions, we must confront difficult, perhaps even dangerous, outcomes. I think the church, especially such mainstream Protestant denominations as my The United Church of Canada, must confront that in our institutional structure we are not (generally) in conversation generationally. How we address that reality is foundational to our call.
Summing It Up
As I mentioned, this is a less than polished conversational musing. I do not have a neat way to wrap this up. I can certainly anticipate and imagine what we benefit when all of us are at the same table, sharing our fears and concerns, embracing the resilience that comes with trusting our vulnerabilities to one another. I can also hear in Pink’s voice and in the conversation with my Brother the dangers when we do not hear one another. So, perhaps, I will end this with an invitation to you, dear Reader:
How have you experienced when generations come together to share?
How have you fostered opportunities for deep listening?
In the tumult of division, which seems to be rampant, how might we nurture spaces and places in which we meet one another, regardless of age, to share the story about us? About Love?