Tom Brokaw wrote a book about people who lived
through the Great Depression and then had to rise to the challenge of
Hitler in Europe and Japanese aggression at Pearl Harbor:
“It is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced.”
– The Greatest Generation, 1998
In this, he is echoing America’s leader during those fateful years:
“This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.”
– Franklin Delano Roosevelt
If you read today’s Monday Morning Memo
about the focus and direction and energy and adventure that come from having a guiding light, you can understand, I’m sure, why it’s easier to be great when your guiding light flames urgent and bright. The WWII generation was fighting for their lives. They didn’t choose to be great. It was thrust upon them.
Truly great is the one who walks away
from ease and comfort and privilege to serve the needs of strangers.
Each of us will fight for those we love. But the quietly great ones – the Don Quixotes – fight for those they do not know.
Don’t mourn that you weren’t born into “The Greatest Generation.”
Do something that needs to be done. Fight for someone who needs you to fight for them because they cannot fight for themselves. Rise up from the pleasure-saturated society in which you live and tackle a problem that is bigger than you are.
“What can I do?” King Arthur cried.
“I see the noblest fellowship in the world crumbling – eroding like a windblown dune. In the hard dark days I prayed and worked and fought for peace. Now I have it and peace is too difficult. Do you know, I find myself wishing for war to solve my difficulties?”
“You are not the first or the last,” said Guinevere.
– Thomas Malory,
from the Winchester manuscript of Le Morte d’Arthur (1485)