Where Have All The Tough Ones Gone?

I attended a funeral recently of a centenarian, a tough Texas grandmother with an attitude, moxie, love for her family and a great sense of humor. She was 100 years young and independent, refusing to move in with her daughter, in order to live alone and independent.

One of the ladies who spoke about her life had married one of the great grandsons. She said that before she met Grandmother, she had heard tales of her wrestling bulls, catching live snakes with her bare hands and always cooking dinner from her garden vegetables. Nervously, the great-granddaughter-in-law was expecting a large, boisterous woman, to burst on the scene. But the lady who came out of the screen door onto the porch to greet them was four feet, nine inches tall at best.

I had never met this lady, but she loomed large in front of me as her family and pastor painted her life’s picture. Her determination was admirable and her sense of humor was always timely. She was not a woman to take no for an answer but also was the tender and caring grandmother you would expect from a gal in East Texas. And the examples of her humor were priceless. She was a  lifelong member of the First Baptist Church and left a serious legacy there.

As I listened to the story of this lady it gripped me that she was a dying breed. Just imagine what she had seen and experienced in her lifetime. She witnessed the development of the airplane from the World War I style bi-planes to the space shuttle and the Mars’ landing. Born at the end of World War I, she lived through World War II, the Korean War and all the conflicts since. Think of the development of the automobile, electricity, the computer age, cell phones…the list is mind boggling of all that her lifetime spanned.

I’m afraid that the past generation of hard-nosed, determined people who solidified this great country for us is on the brink of extinction. We are losing the “Greatest Generation” at a very rapid rate. That generation experienced the extreme difficulty of the Great Depression, which prepared them for individual sacrifices that would be required during the war years. That generation’s toughness was second to none in recent history. They lived by principles that make a nation great and America has benefited for many years from their spirit of never giving up until the job is done.

That attitude was not only seen in the fighting of a world war, but also as they moved into the work force of America. That bull-nosed determination resulted in strong work ethic and pride and satisfaction in doing the job correctly. Consequently, America’s finest hour came from these men and women and we should appreciate their lives immensely.

I believe we are witnessing a culture collapse today, however – an upheaval of ideas and prejudices that threaten the solid fabric of our nation. Instead of a united country in purpose and direction and determinism to be better, America is split down the middle with discontent, lawlessness, self-centeredness, globalist ideology and hatred. The presidential plea “Why can’t we all just get along,” from then President George H. W. Bush, seems almost comical and hollow given the climate of today’s culture.

Younger folks today were not around when the Greatest Generation witnessed the failures of Communism and Socialism, and the senseless loss of millions of innocent lives caused by these governments. Many today could not answer correctly if they were asked, “Who was Joseph Stalin or Adolph Hitler?” One on-the-street interviewer was told by a teen that maybe Hitler was a past president.

Many today are expressing a lofty view of Communism and are excited about the promises of “free” stuff for themselves, declaring that our free market Capitalist system should become obsolete and converted to Communism. But as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher claimed, other people’s money eventually runs out. The once hated evil of Communism is becoming the camel’s nose under the tent today. The blood of the veterans who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom screams “NO!” from their graves.

Having been a business owner, I have hired and fired numerous narcissistic, megalomaniac young people that wanted a paycheck but had a very difficult time earning a paycheck. It seems evident to me that the good old fashioned work ethic is weakening. The strong, determined employee that puts others first for the good of the company he/she works for is pretty much a dinosaur these days.

Where are the strong? Where are the true statesmen? Where are the positive hero role models for our kids? Where are the examples of sacrifice and hard work with pride of accomplishment for family and community? They are all hard to find anymore.

I’m afraid that the personalities that most kids look up to today are the self-centered, multimillion dollar athletes and the rock and rap stars that have nothing to say except, “Be like me.” The average American citizen views the Washington political crowd with disgust, being sickened with all of the hatred and anguish that constantly comes from them.

Don’t get me wrong! We certainly still have heroes. But the brave men and women of our armed forces and first responders do not get the recognition they truly deserve. There are men and women in government that desire the good of our nation but are marginalized by many. Community service organizations serve local communities, putting others before themselves all year long. Shame on us if we do not promote these outstanding people to our children and explain why they are so special to the fabric of America.

The Greatest Generation was one that was family and neighbor oriented. Remember the large front porches of the homes from the past? That was a way of saying, “You are welcome in my home. Let’s visit.” And they actually attended church each Sunday with their kids, instead of dropping them off at church in order to get an hour or two alone for themselves.

So much has changed over the years and not necessarily for the better. Technology has exploded and made life more complicated, in many ways, instead of simpler. There seem to be very few front porches, literally or figuratively, that are inviting and open to others. We live in gated communities and run to our garages where we close ourselves in until we set off to work the next day, rarely seeing or knowing our next door neighbors, unless their kids are on the same team as our kids. Then we’ll see them at the games.

Yes, so much has changed and the upcoming generation will live in a world that all of us Boomers, and earlier, would not recognize. The strong, determined men and women of the past who recognized America’s exceptional greatness and goodness in the global community are being rapidly replaced by those who have political and ideological agendas. The strong and determined person is not appreciated today as much as is the way everyone “feels” about life in the community.

Personally, I hate the thought of America, the land of the free, becoming a wasteland of disgusted, self-centered individuals who couldn’t care less about preserving our freedoms and opportunities that have been so strong through the past two centuries. I’m reminded of Scriptural passages that sound the warnings to us.

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall…There is a way that seems right to man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 16:18, 25)

May God raise up the strong, proud and determined people again that will seek His ways and preserve the greatest country that has provided for so many.