A blessing and not a burden

Published 5:39 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Charles Qualls

In one business, the children are relearning how things run because one day they’ll take things over. While they may have once worked in the company at some level, they are now learning in earnest from nearly the top. They’ll need to get ready, because the parents plan to turn things over to them soon.

Meanwhile across town, the now adult children are taking on more tasks at the old family home place. They haven’t moved back yet, but their parents have made it clear that it’s theirs someday if they want to move home. They would like that, as a matter of fact. So, now they view chores and upkeep differently than they used to.

Election Day comes and the family matriarch heads to her assigned polling station to carry out her duty as a citizen. She’ll cast her ballot. But she’ll do so this year looking at things differently than she used to. Now, she’s thinking not just of party or affiliation, but also of how she thinks a particular candidate will pave the future for her children and grandchildren. She wants to leave a better world for them. She’ll be shocked and confused soon, however, when she debriefs that vote with her own kids and grandkids.

They’re about to ask her to stop helping, if she thinks that particular candidate is the answer. Though they themselves can see their own retirement now just in sight, she’ll find out her kids voted exactly the opposite and worry even more about their own future nowadays. That’ll catch her off guard. She thinks they’ll wise up one day when they’ve lived a little more.

Ever stop and ponder what kind of world we’ll leave behind for the next generation? My hunch is we all ponder that now and then. I am also guessing that when we do, we often look right past some of the obvious things we could be doing and strain at bigger solutions instead.

What if we stopped thinking so ethereally, and began doing more of what we could right here and now? What if a better world for younger folks were closer at hand than we think?

For instance, as one friend observed, what if parents stopped trying so hard to be their kids’ best friends. Instead, what if they showed their kids a little more of what life is actually like? I wasn’t exactly raised in a democracy, but I see parents my age and younger trying to parent as though everyone gets an equal vote. I don’t know about you, but I needed a little saving from my own self at every stop along the way. When I grew up, I found out that not everyone in the world was going to be interested in being my buddy. It came in handy that I hadn’t experienced too much of that at home.

What if we taught the next generation the benefits of basic kindness, participation in community and consideration for others? One trip to the grocery store or one ride down the road and it becomes obvious that we are turning a world over to a new generation that has gone backward in basic civility. What if we modeled cooperation in our city, our neighborhood and churches like we’d like for the kids to enjoy someday when it’s their turn?

What if we took responsibility and gave some sacrifice toward creating a cleaner and healthier environment in which to live? What if we recycled our material waste, and cared about what is being pumped into our water and our air? I know about right now, some of you are thinking Green New Deal and hearing the extreme political voices of today in your heads. Instead, I’d rather we heard the old Jewish doctrine of tikkun olam or “repair the world.”

What if folks were a little less selfish and argumentative? What if folks were a little more generous and giving instead? What if people made sure they did things for others rather than just for themselves? What if we paid goodness forward, and not just back, risking that in doing so we might create a more loving world?

Honestly, I know how simplistic this all sounds. Simple minded. But, if we want another generation to inherit a blessing and not a burden then we could start by modeling better the kind of world we want for them. That means being better to each other, and better to all of Creation. Besides, those kinds of things are far more in my control than is world peace, for instance.

THE REV. DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.