I recently had occasion to see the new movie, Selma, the story of Martin Luther King's fight for the voting rights of African Americans. I expected the film to be the stirring story of the great man's inspirational leadership of the civil rights movement. It wasn't. Rather, Selma was the story of the persistent, courageous self-sacrifice of people great and small, black and white, who were willing to give everything they had, including their lives, for a humanitarian cause greater than themselves.
On the drive home I began to lament our twenty-first century culture. I began to miss the 60's, and the compassion people felt for one another. Society was engaged in the civil rights movement, the women's lib movement, the anti-war movement, and the war on poverty that inspired an entire generation to passionate sacrifice and selflessness.
As I drove down Third Avenue away from the theater that night, I could almost feel the impact of fifty years of relative peace, ease and affluence that two generations of Americans have enjoyed. Expressions like entitlement, narcissism, and the ‘me-generation’ flooded my mind. Whatever happened to humility, kindness, compassion, sharing, duty and generosity? How did society change so much since the 60's? Will The Greatest Generation ever return?
With my mind racing, I turned onto West Weldon, a crosstown shortcut to the freeway, and began drifting past clusters of homeless people huddled against blank concrete factory walls out of the wind. My thinking was muddled as I glanced right and left at one little gathering, then another. Some had erected cardboard box shelters and others had slipped into filthy sleeping bags. They were quiet for the most part. I could see only a little movement now and then.
Just before the entrance ramp to the freeway, I passed The Church on the Street, a homeless assistance center. When I saw The Dream Center, as the church was called, a sense of relief crept into my mind. Suddenly, I remembered two case workers who worked there. They were friends of mine, a man and a woman, who worked six days a week, fifteen hours a day because of the sudden increase in homeless vets they were dealing with. They were paid very little and worked without modern technology or adequate office space. They never had enough food or beds but were always passionate about helping the vets. They were bright, ambitious, and ever hopeful.
As I drove up the ramp and onto the freeway, I realized that the spirit portrayed in Selma did still exist in America. My two friends, and all the other dedicated case workers across the country, were our greatest generation. They all worked long hours for little money. They were compassionate toward the people they were sworn to help. They were givers who saw their duty and did it with dedication.
They are our story of "persistent, courageous self-sacrifice".
The FAMCare Blog