A Day of Atonement for America: A To-Do List for Boomers Who Want a Decent Legacy

            Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement for the Jewish People and we Christians could definitely learn from our Jewish elder brothers and sisters in the faith. On this day one meditates on the state of the relationship between oneself and God, and where we’re falling short and how we can do better. This is a day for concentrating on where and how we need to clean up our act; and than doing it. So here’s my list of collective sins that we need to work on lest these failings get the better of us and steal our children’s future.

·       We’ve become a frightful bunch of liars.  We’re lying about how much debt Washington has racked up, and that we can afford all these entitlements, when the Social Security Trust Fund is empty and the money is gone.  Same story with Medicare; but it’s already running in the red. It’s not just a good idea to get off the debt wagon it’s critical to our national survival.  We need to have a frank discussion about what programs we want to keep and those we can’t afford. We need to speak the truth without being branded a racist, sexist, homophobe and one who hates old people, young people, and disabled people and so on.  We’re going to have to learn the art of being truthful about our priorities because we’re going to have to make sacrifices.  No sense lying about it:  we’re going to have to make sacrifices. Sacrifice for a future generation and for each other is a noble thing and a duty that we owe to each other if we’re to walk in love.

·       We’ve become disempowered by allowing ourselves to be controlled by ideology and we need to get rid of political correctness and identity politics. PC is the most insidious form of corrosive political manipulation ever invented.  One is encouraged to practice the politics of personal aggrandizement and narcissism disguised as false self esteem rather than emphasizing the need for personal responsibility and helping out our family and community: the basics of real self esteem. People who don’t think Obama has the experience to be president are not racist for thinking that.  People who think no public company should pay an executive in excess of 35 million per annum are neither communist nor socialists! No one is a victim in this nation because of race, sex, or whatever rather we are all free and responsible for our choices.  When you set up a graduated system, or pantheon of victimhood, you destroy the power of the people in favor of political elite who becomes the master of us all.

·       We’ve become morally neutered by failing to set norms for society, and defending those norms, in the face of those who’ve disempowered us by insisting that we’re imposing our values on others.  The question isn’t ;who is drawing the line ,the question is have we selected the best possible norms to enhance our society and our spiritual growth as human beings.  Every law we have is a fundamental values statement and those who insist that anyone who follows a moral code, however imperfectly, is a hypocrite because they’re not perfect is imposing anarchy on us all.  Our kids need rules to grow up healthy and well and morality is a fundamental and necessary aspect of a just society.  We need to demand that everyone play by the rules and sanction those who don’t.  We need to rediscover the sense of right and wrong that was stolen from us by secular humanism.

·       We need to remember that we  have everything we need and that we don’t have to worship at the altar of materialism.  When buying all that stuff places us in bondage to the credit card company, or when Washington refuses to make difficult choices, and spends more than it has, we must break free, and just say no to purchases we can’t afford.  There is no shame in this.  It’s actually a virtue and it’s called self discipline.  We can allow ourselves to practice a wholesome self discipline or events will one day enforce a discipline that we may find more onerous and less character building. We need to rediscover gratitude for all the stuff we do have and not let the stuff steal our time with loved ones or our peace of mind by failing to live within our means. 

Baby Boomers have to grow up eventually and develop a political dialog with others that does not demonize the other person nor unnecessarily polarize society. We need to make hard decisions between competing good things because we can’t do everything we want any more than we can have everything we want.  Our choices define us as individuals and as a generation and a society.  We have to tell the truth as best we can and make our choices: such is the stuff of life.  We need to set norms for society based on truth and honesty and freedom and defend those norms lest we lose all identity as moral agents and as a just society.  The absence of morality is not freedom its anarchy. We need to speak to each other and not at each other and make arguments based on truth and fact rather than demonizing those who disagree and allowing emotion to replace reason and logic. We need to brush up on self discipline and a cheerful spirit of gratitude and sacrifice because we too should leave this world a little better than we found it.

We’ve lost our way in the last 30 years and it’s time to admit it and make the hard choices necessary, based on logic and reason, that will ensure our legacy as a generation who eventually got it and did the hard things necessary for future generations. We can learn from the spirit of wisdom, found in our rich spiritual traditions and heritage or we can learn from the teacher of consequences as we have these last months.  It’s a whole lot better to be instructed by Wisdom because Consequences can be a harsh taskmaster indeed.

Yom Kippur is a time of atonement.  Let’s use it well and get to work.


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