Recently, I engaged in conversation with some youth of my church at St. Michael.
We talked about many things young people discuss today. Topics included school, vacations, summer, family, last gadget on the web and etc.
As we continued our conversation, I noticed a glare of preoccupation among them. Usually teenagers express themselves with that charming carefree nature they possessed. So, I asked them what is worrying them.
“For us who have lived (after) one of the most tumultuous times ever since Sept. 11, 2001, it is a time of concern,” one girl said.
At that moment I realized I am witnessing the post Sept. 11 generation. These kids were not even 1-year-old or simply had not been born yet then.
It is true, Sept. 11, 2001, changed forever life in America. That fatidic day, we lost our national innocence and became part of the whole world with its reality and cruelty. America finally had fallen into the globalization of terror, brokenness and destruction. Our national identity fell captive to the generalization of fear, terror and mistrust to one another. Our exceptionalism in the world became our commonly anxiety and fear of any other country.
For these youth born after September 2001, you have already lived this reality. America and the world are not the same. Besides the chronological difference we have, they seemed to understand their generation is different.
They are different, yet they aspire to great things. They want to succeed in life and make the difference in the world. The problem is their environment and culture do not sponsor or convey a deep reflection of how or when that may occur. The globalization of indifference, the individualism and current events are not conducive to a meditation over the common good.
As we continued our discussion, a young men surprised with a quote of Psalm 90.
“In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.”
The inclusiveness of evil and destruction we have experienced during these past 15 years may echo this plea. “In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.”
For 200-plus years, America has been a country based on the values of Christian faith, of freedom, of happiness and justice. But somehow those values have become derailed.
Perhaps, unintentionally, we have focused to fear, mistrust, decay and immorality of all sorts. Our political system seems to be more concerned in serving itself than the people. Education has become more worldly, in which God has not place or existence. Our business has become obsessed by profits above service. Our family structure has been severed by other options. All of the above mentioned are in coalition with the very law of Yahweh, Our God.
Our young generation as well as the older one are called to learn from our experiences — at least that is what common sense tell us. But beyond that worldly wisdom, there is the irrevocable wisdom of our God if we claim to follow him.
Perhaps, we can invoke Psalm 51 12, “A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me again from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit.”
As we continue our national journey, we pray not only our younger generation as well the older embrace the principles of love, kindness and goodwill that the Lord has bestowed upon us.
The Rev. Monsignor Jaime Barona is pastor of St. Michael Catholic Church in Gainesville. He can be reached at 770-534-3338 ext. 222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.