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by R.J. Ladd

I suppose that for some, the current Corona Virus-19 is the first real crisis they’ve experience. For quite some time, I have been curious about why so many in the “greatest generation,” those who are now in their 80’s, 90’s and some even over 100-years-old, know about survival that the rest of us could learn from.

Since many of them lived through the “Great Depression,” (I’ve always wondered what was so GREAT about it?) the Second World War and the Korean War, the key word has to be RESILIENCE. I wonder what wisdom they would share with us now.

I am in the generation of Baby Boomers who grew up having drills in school, where we had to get under our school desks (maybe 2” thick cheap wood with thin, round metal legs) to prepare for the drop of a nuclear bomb. Many of my fellow boomers joke about what was supposed to be our “protection.”

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That was the 60’s. I watched the funeral of our President on television with my family when I was nine-years-old, and the subsequent assassination of two of his brothers in the same decade. I watched college kids riot at college campuses, as many of their peers went to fight in a conflict in Viet Nam that had no explanation. I watched televised broadcasts of the Ohio National Guard shooting students on the Kent University campus in Ohio on May 4, 1970 killing four students and injuring 9 others. I was sixteen. Boys who turned 18 in my graduating class of 1972 were the first not sent into the war since the draft lottery for Vietnam began in 1969.

Out of this confusion grew a great rebellion, from which the “Hippies,” Jesus Freaks and other such groups arose. There were “be-ins” and “love-ins” in local parks. The Beatles and many other great musicians and groups ushered in a  culture for a generation that experienced so much pain and didn’t know how to handle their grief. “Turn on and tune out” became the motto of many.

For those of us who survived all of this, along with the pain of our parents’ previous generation, the key has been resilience. How do you find peace in any of this? How do you recover from the personal loss, the loss of those around you? How do you survive and even thrive?

Those were different times. I don’t remember the word “thrive” back then. This is part of a new generation that sees more to life than mere survival, fighting for the “change they can be.”

I am a huge fan of the new generation. They give me hope. They give me joy. I admire their ability to break through things that have been stuck for too long.

But… trials come. Challenges come. They always will. Because life is, in many ways, cyclical. The economy is a perfect example with its ebbs and flows much like the waves coming in from the ocean, crashing the shores and heading back to build again.

The wisdom of those who have lived a long time, through disasters natural and unnatural, through the loss of those close to them, through wars and other devastating circumstances is resilience. The strength to last. The inner toughness that makes you tell yourself, “I will go on.” And the knowledge that though there are always going to be trials in life, the blessings, the beauty of loving and living will, hopefully, far outweigh the difficulties.

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