I turned 50 in July of this year. Almost everyone who is a High School graduate of 1981 will turn 50 at some point this year. (I say “almost” because I grew up in the era of “Doogie Howser, MD” & other real-life proteges who earned doctorates, or played at Carnegie Hall by the time they were 12!) Turning 50 is a milestone, no doubt. Some days I feel my youth slipping away, while other days I laugh at 4th graders huffing & puffing after climbing the stairs to my art room!
Many anniversaries happen this year, but the assassination of President John F. Kennedy has always made me pause & reflect. “Where were you when…?” That’s always the question, right? I was only 5 months old, so I was probably in a crib somewhere taking a nap while the rest of the country was glued to the news, hoping for the best.
And where were you when you got your draft notice? When Pearl Harbor was attacked? On D-day? When VE Day was declared? When Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed? Bobby Kennedy? When 4 students were killed at Kent State? When Reagan was shot? When John Lennon was killed? On 9-11-01 when America was attacked?
Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB reflects on the legacy left to us by three great leaders of the 50’s & 60’s, and where we are as a country, and as individuals, 50 years later:
“They warned us, all of them — JFK, Martin and John — to examine our policies and change our hearts, to open our arms and expand our souls, to stretch our minds beyond parochialism and chauvinism and domination or doom ourselves to watch the country destroy itself at its own hand.
And yet never has the country been so divided between haves and have-nots, between the affluent and the struggling, between the forces of spiritual change and the minions of control as now.
We talk global peace and continue to arm ourselves — every man, woman and child on the street — to the point of total vigilantism.
We have managed to get poorer, more divided and more doctrinaire in every arena. We have concentrated our wealth and destroyed our unions.
We have called the customs of the faith the essence of the faith. And so we have become a church in depression and disarray. We have spent our energies on the trappings of religion rather than on the heart of religion.”
In the last 50 years we have made many improvements & gained so much, but we still have a long way to go in our struggle for equality, justice, and peace in our own nation & abroad. As I contemplate Sr. Joan’s article, US politics, and EVERYTHING (I mean it: EVERYTHING!!!), surprisingly I am not filled with a sense of dread. Rather, I’m filled with a sense of hope & determination.
I’m at that “1/2 time” point in my life. Time to re-evaluate, contemplate, and make some changes to make the second half a whole lot better.