I guess I surprised a lot of people, including some close friends, with my negative comments about my generation. Here is the source of my disappointment: the Baby Boom generation has become terribly polarized and most of the key leaders in my generation seem unable to get beyond their own egos and work out the compromises necessary to achieve significant goals.
Exhibit One: our U.S. president is a Baby Boomer and he cannot seem to find it in his heart to come to a compromise on the Iraq situation and his whole "anti-terrorism" program to get two-thirds or more of the thought leaders in his own generation behind it. He did this with the No Child Left Behind initiative right out of the box, and there was the potential for doing it with the Faith-based & Community Initiatives strategy, but he has allowed both of those goals to slip from his fingers because it seems to be more important to him to "be the decider," to win, to avoid recognizing that he was elected by less than a majority the first time and a hair's breadth the second time.
This kind of ego-centric leadership behavior is replicated again and again among Baby Boomers. The vast potential of my generation is being wasted at the prime of their lives because we have so few servant-leaders. Everyone wants to be a superstar; everyone insists on being a free agent.
Another example: the prosecution of Lewis Libby with regards to the politically-motivated "outing" of a CIA agent. He is not being prosecuted for a real crime, just for an obscure lie that may have been an accident, not intentional. The Federal prosecutor should have had the moral courage to admit that he does not have the evidence necessary to prosecute anyone for the real crime involved, but his professional ego is on the line and so he has to press forward as if he did. It is my opinion that a growing share of prosecutions at all levels are being driven by this kind of ego instead of real values about justice, etc. It is perverting our entire jurisprudence system.
Baby Boomers insist on re-creating "Vietnam" and the Cold War in the current context with regard to Iraq and "war on terrorism." Too many of us cannot seem to get beyond those lost battles of our youth that seem to fester in our ego-memories. America is squandering its world leadership on this ego-centric, ridiculous replay at a time when global issues of human rights, the environment, trade, etc., call out for the kind of truly statesmanlike servant-leadership that we should be providing.
In the Church, we have the same kind of polarization. We are re-fighting the battles over "Questions on Doctrine," the atonement, the nature of Christ, etc., endlessly ... while younger generations are walking out because they don't see any real spiritual power and certainly no real prophetic leadership in the Church. We are critical of the established institutions we inherited, and have spent a lot of time closing down a very few of them, but we have done almost nothing to successfully start new institutions and ministries. Whenever a leader or group of leaders have made some changes, then in a short time other leaders have taken it upon themselves to undo those changes. Since our parents started Pathfinder Clubs for us, what major new initiative has the Baby Boom generation successfully made into a far-reaching, widely supported cause with significant impact on the world?
To be truly great, Baby Boomer leaders need to develop humility ... a Christlike spirit sufficient to say, "I could be wrong; I will join you and support you; let's all get behind this goal and make something happen." The vast majority of pastors today are Baby Boomers, but I do not see much collaboration going on. (A few very hopeful projects here and there, but even those are entered into by some with great reservations.) The majority of local church lay leaders are Baby Boomers, but it seems to me that there is more "same old, same old" going on in congregations than when I was 15.
OK. Now some of you are more angry at me than ever. This is not sounding a hopeful note. I'm sorry. It is truth-telling time. The front-wave Baby Boomers are moving into their 60s. I will be 60 in 18 months. We've got to get beyond, "Don't trust anyone over 30," because we are all over 30 now! We are at that stage in life where we need to rely on the trust we've built with friends over the years and move together behind real innovations and create a future that is worth the enormous investment our parent's generation and all of America has made in us. I could be wrong, but I think it is past time for us to put aside our differences and our egos and come together to create something in this world that is truly great, perhaps built from the dreams we dreamed of as teenagers; a community that is inclusive, compassionate, hopeful, future-oriented, in harmony with nature and filled with the grace of nature's God.
I am not reacting to anything specific, so far as I can think. (I've ransacked my memory, believe me, asking, Why did I say that?) I guess it is an accumulation of little things; a building awareness. It is an overwhelming sense that America and the Church are sitting dead still, caught in a massive traffic jam, with no good solutions, right at the moment when we should be leading a celebration of a future that has arrived.