I was of a generation raised in school to “duck and cover”, to fear Communist aggression and to expect the possibilities of a global nuclear conflict at any moment. Yet these were happy and carefree days on the most part due to the cheerfulness, almost giddiness, of our parents who began a new life as the conquerors of the vanquished. After all they had prevailed against the evil of this world and returned home victorious and triumphant from the Second World War.
Our parents were heroes and we, as a united people, felt invincible and yet a bit apprehensive due to the technological advances that we ushered in with the nuclear age. The weapons of war had become frightening. It was an age of schizophrenia; jubilant, prideful, carefree, happy but with the underpinnings of a looming disaster lying in wait just around the corner.
Ike was our president and though we were at war in Korea, it was spoken of as a mere police action while we spent our time setting off nuclear weapons in the Pacific atolls not far from Pearl Harbor, ground zero for our forced involvement in the Great War. But life in Hawaii was good and full of fun, sun and beaches. We kids swam and played as our parents engaged in almost endless games of bridge, canasta, hearts and other amusing card games though those times were certainly beginning to feel a bit of the creeping unrest to come: the stalemate in Korea, the development of missiles capable of putting a “sputnik” into orbit, the fall of Cuba to the Communists and the realization that nuclear missiles were being installed only a short distance from our shores.
We were dealing with the matter of Civil Rights, of note the “I have a dream” speech in ’63, then the shots that rang around the world: first the shots at Dealey Plaza, November 22nd, also in ’63, which killed JFK, preceded by our involvement in Cuban Democracy and South Vietnam’s push for independence. As if on cue, other shots rang out, almost an echo of the Lee Harvey Oswald shots occurring though they happened some 5 years later; and MLK lay dead. Obviously, tensions rose both domestically and internationally and we were getting much deeper into a seemingly endless fight with the Vietnamese Communists. Social unrest turned into social upheaval and we have never looked back.
Yes, we were a society of Ozzie and Harriets and the Mickey Mouse Club but we had become a nation of Psychedelic Rock, drug addiction and all around pleasure seekers. I wonder if we were trying to convince ourselves that we could run away from evil or join forces with it in a type of truce so that we might continue our carefree youth or extend it. Alas! That was not to be: for our past had been completely uprooted.
We were the Boomers, the kids of the Greatest Generation, who rode the coattails of our parent’s exuberance in all that they had accomplished. They had a right to their positivism as they had earned it. We had not. And most of us would come to learn this truth in the many long and painful lessons which were to tear our families apart, our faith apart and our societies apart.
Even the unchanging Catholic Church was speaking of ditching Latin in the Mass and replacing it with the vernacular and that the old Gregorian Chant was in places being replaced by folk music, drums and nose whistles . . . according to the 3rd page of the LA Times: coincidentally, this was reported on the same day that JFK was assassinated. A connection between Heaven and Earth at a time when the Third Secret was supposed to be revealed to the world? It was not.
So it does seem to me that the world changed rather suddenly with the murder of JFK. It was as if we had lost our innocence and had experienced something deep within our souls that forever changed us as a people. It had awakened the truth that there is an ever-present evil in this world and, once again, our eyes became open to the fact that even blue skies are eclipsed by storm clouds with regularity. Even though we all know that should we rise above the clouds, a blue sky is still extant. However, from our vantage point, all seems rather dark and foreboding. Yes, the days of our parents are over and a much more evil and sinister world has now been placed in hands that were and are persistently unprepared for this global war on society: a war we are losing at present and, perhaps, a war we were not meant to win. For this is a war that is waged supernaturally in heaven and all we can do is resist evil and pray. We fight only to delay the inevitable. But even our seeming worthless resistance will be rewarded by the real victor of this War, Christ . . . lest Satan wins our souls for all eternity. Christ will not let that happen to those Who fight along side Him no matter our frailty or our inabilities. And our efforts to aid in that fight will not go unrewarded. For nobody is more generous than Our Lord.
Those of my generation, who have survived this age until now, are seeing evil as we never saw it before. In politics and in a lack of true stewardship of souls by our parishes and our clergy. So we again choose sides and resist and we send up our prayers for fortitude and wisdom. Whether this is the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning, we don’t know. But for us, it is the quintessential battle of our day. Good vs. Evil. And it is the battle that has raged from the beginning. It may be ended in my lifetime or far into the future. But we have our part to play in this battle. Let us not lose heart.