"Peace is our Profession" proclaims the billboard at the gate of the Air Force base where I was born in 1966. My father carried a two-way radio in case war started while he was visiting my mother and me in the hospital. If missiles were launched, he would be driven to his waiting B-52 and fly off to drop nuclear bombs on the enemy.
That call never came. But we are creatures weaned on fear and mistrust. We are asked to have peace in our hearts, in our homes, and on our city streets while our elders trust in war and violence as solutions to their international relationships.
If my experience holds truth for others near my age, it is no wonder that we share a suspicion of what words mean and a wariness of relationships. We have been mourning the loss of this world and our lives from the day we were born. Our primary experience is grief, not grace.
My elders look at my generation with something like moral repugnance for our perceived lack of distinction. Maybe our forms of resistance are invisible to the crude lens of the mass media, which, after all, only ask the questions of the generation behind the camera. Perhaps we fail to distinguish ourselves as a generation because we want connection and communication, not distinction and competition. My intuition is that the gift and vocation we bring is one of reconciliation and healing.
When the church talks about welcoming people in their 20s, it needs to ready itself to receive the blessings and the challenges we bring. Getting a hold of our demographics, a practice which confirms my suspicion that generational rhetoric is more a tool of marketing than truth, does not get you in touch with me. The lens is crude; it reproduces the soul-stealing alienation of the system that produces it. I want you to get in touch with me as a person, not as a piece of information distilled into statistical anonymity.