Lady Liberty and Her Prodigal Kids
God is a pretty bad copy editor, I thought. One of the most colorful stories in the Bible is simply called “Generations.” Not at an attention grabber by any means.
I couldn’t help wonder why this pivotal chapter, in which Jacob coaxes Esau out of his birthright and takes his blessing too, had such a lackluster title.
It hit me only when I saw a magazine on the newsstand called WWII, which featured an article entitled “Vanishing Eyewitnesses.” The article questioned who would perpetuate all we fought and died for as America’s veterans pass on. Of the over 16 million American Veterans of WWII, fewer than 2.5 million remain alive. Over the next 10 years, 2 million of them will die.
So as the greatest generation and their heroic deeds fade away and a newer generation knows not what they stood for, it becomes ever so clear how a “birthright” is ever dependent upon the GENERATIONS.
As I’ve written before, we are so busy giving Generation Next everything we didn’t have growing up that we forget to give them what we did have. How many of your kids have ipods? How many have laptops? How many have too many applications on their iphones? Yet, how many know the name Tom Paine, Nathan Hale, John Adams? Perhaps they think these dudes are rap artists or reality TV show stars. How many of our kids know why we entered WWII and what was at stake? What is even more devastating than the gravestones of unnamed soldiers is that buried with them are the noble but forgotten causes for which they gave their lives.
If there is one thing I admire about Palestinians is that from the moment their kids are born they instill in them a sense of duty attached to their history and birthright (albeit a fabricated birthright and history). They do not instill in them a sense of entitlement as do we with our kids. They teach their children how to die for what they believe in, while we hardly teach ours how to live for it.
Entitlement is a very weak custodian in which to entrust everything we have, especially if it is not rooted in history, memory, appreciation and responsibility.
The biblical Esau represents our generation which is all too ready to sell its “birthright” for a quick fix--Esau sold his for a bowl of lentils! The sale of his birthright for such a pathetic price affirmed his regard solely for the present, with no regard for the legacy of Abraham. With his birthright came a responsibility to the future and a respect for the past. He had no time for such burdens. Esau, we are taught, lived only for the moment (as does the current generation). History is boring, responsibility is a pain, activism is a burden, the future is too far away: sexting, texting and the “now” is where it’s at man.
And it is in this historic vacuum that our newest generation is lost. They are the essential link to sustaining everything that we are and those links have to be continually fortified and nurtured. To whom will we entrust the great birthright called America, a new and apathetic generation of Esaus who care not and know not why they are here?
The Founding Fathers have bestowed a great birthright, a great land of liberty. But who will love it as they have, as we have? Their clarion call is beckoning you to the battlefield once again to refound this great country with your children by your side. It’s a heated decisive battle in which you cannot let one day can go by where you don’t send a letter to a congressman or a senator or make your voice heard. This is not someone else’s fight. You can’t be too tired to engage in active duty.
The first words we ever hear from Esau in the Bible are that he’s “exhausted”(Genesis 25:30). Biblical scholars teach that he was exhausted because he was so busy living for the pleasures of the moment that his energy was depleted in the service of himself. That is why Jacob coaxed his brother’s birthright away from him because he had zero regard for the past or the future and was not a responsible enough custodian for the destiny of a great nation or a birthright. Are we?
As we watch the American president once again bowing deep before foreign leaders, ask yourselves what has become of your birthright? Are you ready to hand it over and bow and bend in disgrace. Are you too tired to care? Does Generation Next care less than you?
This country is on the brink of irreversible change. You might wakeup one morning with Lady Liberty and say “Who is this strange woman in my bed?” She will not look anything like she did the beautiful star-spangled night before.
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