OK, Boomer! … We Didn’t Start the Fire

This weekend, one of my wonderful young friends started using a term of endearment … “OK, Boomer” … when he talks to me. Let me lay the setting. He is a Generation Z, and I am a Boomer – barely a boomer. I more identify as … never mind, I digress. We get along. Yes, I am tempted to DiNozza him occasionally, but that is more about me missing my son (nobody to slap in the back of the head) than this young Z-er doing anything deserving of such terms of endearment.

As I ponder this, I am noticing news reports talking of Bernie Sanders getting the younger vote. The up and coming voters are quite disenchanted with Boomers, Busters … well anyone older then them. And older generations are blaming many of our world’s problems on younger folks not being realistic. Really, a 15 year old high school drop out (okay, on a “break”), lecturing scientist and those trying to work the problem. Again, I digress.

Two things hit my brain as I digest all of this.

First … from England. At St. John’s College at Oxford, students were looking for a platform to demand the school’s divestment from fossil fuels as part of a climate emergency. The bursar, the one who manages the college’s financial affairs, offered a proposal. He said he couldn’t do such action on short notice, but could arrange for the gas central heating to be switched off with immediate effect. (See the story here)

They tried to ridicule him as being unreasonable and asked for an adult conversation. But that is what he was doing. He was using it as a teaching moment that making demands without personal sacrifice is unfair and unreasonable. An ideal without consequences doesn’t exist.

Second … from the Bronx. I am listening to a song from 1989. Billy Joel, one whose origin was the Bronx, wrote a song of historical and political importance that tells the older generation to stop blaming the younger generation for problems in the world (the fire = world’s problems). He masterfully intertwines poetry and history together. Mostly chronological, though the last verse starts to jump around, his We Didn’t Start the Fire declares that you can’t blame problems on the ‘then’ younger generation.

And the same is true today. Nor should the younger generation blame their parents generation either. But I do find that Billy Joel’s chorus does give us a good way to look at this …

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

We didn’t start it … nor did you. And that’s okay, but will you join me in trying to fight it. We may disagree on solutions, direction, philosophy, but we should want the world to be a better place than the way we found it.

So Greta (15 year old climate champion), so St John students, so Billy Joel, please keep sharing your passions and let’s all work the problem. Let’s not point fingers and cast blame, plenty of time for that later, let’s try to fight the fire … together.

On a spiritual insight, Billy Joel was right. It’s been burning from the beginning of time. It’s called sin, and it’s been around. And the only real solution doesn’t rest with governments, ideologies, or even religion. But the real solution lies with heart change that happens through Jesus.

And that’s something I can really get behind.

Have a blessed day.





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