Boomers or Bust

Sr. Pat Thomas, OP
Blog by Sr. Pat Thomas, OP

Those of us who are labeled “Baby Boomers”, those folks born between the years 1946 and 1964, are legion and are living longer so we are impacting all levels of our economy, our society, our churches.

We benefited from the “The Greatest Generation” returning from WWII and moving the economy into an incredible upward trend, again at all levels. We blew it in the 80s when we got greedy and now are facing our role in Climate Change, the housing market, the bank closures, the educational system, and so much more; and an awful lot of us are in denial of our responsibility for these things.

But we are also “Busters” of some of the myths around what has made our country great. Yes, maybe we do argue with the younger generation too much and try to make them think the same ways we all used to, but some of us are truly “woke” (that is not a typo), and we are the inheritors of Vatican II, the Civil Rights act, anti-war protests, questioning everything and anyone in authority. We cannot and will not take anything for granted anymore.

We have read and learned more about the “sin history” of this country than we ever did in our classrooms of the 50s, 60s, and 70s; a lot of us don’t know what to do with this new found knowledge. It has been frightening, disturbing, uncomfortable to say the least. But we have been learning it and have decisions to make. What will we do with what we now know and how can we use what we now know to make a difference?

As always, I have turned to reading and have found books I never saw before but maybe that was only because I am ready for them now. Among them are Walking with the Wind a memoir by John Lewis. Stamped from the Beginning by Ibraim Kendi and Fire on the Mountain by James Baldwin. We thought we were pretty cool in the 60s when our class had to read Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. I remember being present in Washington in 1972 for the inaugural Mass celebrating the creation of the National Office of Black Catholics, and it took me a long while to understand the need for such an office. I mean, wasn’t a Catholic a Catholic? Little did we know we had barely scratched the surface of race relations, racism and what it really meant to be white.

If we persist in our resistance to inform ourselves, to “re-educate” ourselves, we will never understand why athletes kneel on their playing fields; why “All Lives Matter” is really a sign of ignorance not of support; why avoiding difficult conversations about race or LGBTQ issues or the right to life in all of its aspects will achieve nothing.

As Dominicans we are challenged to do our homework and by the principle of disputatio which expects us to listen to all sides, to hear all sides. True practice of this leads us deeper and challenges us to listen more deeply. It does not demand that we agree with everything we hear but that we have learned where someone is really rooted. How many of us just throw up our hands, shake our heads, walk away and consider the other person too liberal or too conservative and pretty much a lost cause?  As Dominicans we must challenge others, family, friends and other Dominicans to make sure that what we are preaching is giving the message of truth and not just of “well this is how I learned it” and “so it must be true”. All around us so many are fearful, feeling hopeless and having great doubts about how God could really be present in the midst of all this. So, we have a great challenge facing us as women and men of the Truth. God is good!

Posted in News, Weekly Word

6 responses to “Boomers or Bust

  1. At last we are moving on to a more intellectual perspective! Bravo Pat. It is said that to adhere to only one point of view is to be brainwashed; to consider many different points of view is to be educated. And Dominicans strive to be educators.

  2. Many experienced this sheltered life. I was fortunate to have a husband whose job challenged us to jump into the midst. And we did. Your words are so profound. Thank you for reminding us all of the challenges and responsibilities we have.

  3. Sr. Pat,
    Thanks for your thoughtful blog. I would also welcome a follow-up about the various dimensions of the Dominican practice of disputatio. How was it practiced in the European universities that were established by the Dominicans? How is it practiced and adapted today in Dominican institutions and gatherings? What are its strengths and limitations? I look forward to learning more.

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