“It’s very serious. It’s not a movie…I’m not iconic, I think Ukraine is iconic.”
– Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
I was born in 1983, so I narrowly squeezed into the generation we call Millennials. Millennials are between ages 26 and 41 now and are often seen by older generations as soft, lazy snowflakes. We’re the “everyone gets a trophy” generation and the “I’ll have an avocado and chia latte before my Pilates class” crowd. Many of the Millennial stereotypes miss the mark, but if we are soft, it may be partly because we have grown up during an unprecedented period of relative global peace and prosperity.
My grandparents grew up during the Spanish flu, the Great Depression, the Holocaust, and World War II. My parents grew up during the Vietnam War, the rise of the Soviet Union and nuclear fear, and the racial and political violence of the 1960’s. The Twentieth Century—at least the first half—was the most murderous era in recorded human history, with war deaths alone estimated at 187 million, the equivalent of more than 10% of the world’s population in 1913.
By God’s grace, my generation has been spared much bloodshed. We have had our wars, but they have mostly been far away. With the exception of 9/11, I’ve never really felt like my way of life was under attack from foreign enemies. We’ve had economic downturns, but nothing catastrophic, certainly nothing compared to what previous generations lived through. This calm has been a blessing, one I pray my children continue to experience, but it is vital that we do not take this for granted. Millennials tend to forget that war and struggle has been the norm for most of human history. It’s only recently we’ve become accustomed to peace and prosperity.
As I have watched the Russian invasion of Ukraine this week, I’ve been moved and deeply inspired by the courageous action of ordinary Ukrainian people—bakers, writers, ballerinas, moms and dads, and people from all walks of life, joining up together in the fight to protect their homeland from invading armies. I read about a grandmother who this week learned to shoot a Kalashnikov and make Molotov cocktails so she could help defend her family.
I don’t know what the future holds for my generation or my children’s. In many ways, there are troubling clouds on the horizon. I pray for peace. For now, I’m grateful for the opportunity to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. But I also pray for steely-eyed courage, that I will have even a small measure of the bravery demonstrated by the Ukrianian people, that I will have the fortitude to stand and fight when the enemies of liberty come.