Will culture call 2020 the “Summer of Discontent?” “Summer of Fear?” “Summer of Change?” “Summer of WTF?”
Summer of Discontent is the choice of one of my morning walking buddies. He’s an older man who also calls himself a racist. So yes, we do have some interesting conversations as we still choose to walk together.
As one who was probably in his late 20s for the Summer of 1968 and that “Summer of Love” he can have an opinion. I have an opinion that this Summer of 2020 is going to change the next generations similarly and more so than what that Summer of 1968 did to change our generations.
Tie dye is trending again. Especially DIY tie-dying anything you can find in your home while sheltering-in-place thanks to TikTok and YouTube. Commune-living is trending again. This time communes are not for religious teaching but for other common goals such as being social media influencers or gaming. It’s 1968 all over again but then it is not.
Is this a quote from 1968 or 2020?
“At the click of a button, we can start a movement. …The weight of the world is heavy. And there’s a lot going on, and there’s a lot of change that we need to make and a lot more justice that we need to achieve,” Ahmed added. “I would say that my peers are passionate, and I would say my peers are frustrated, but also I think my peers are optimistic. … We’re looking at a world where there is so much injustice and brutality and unfairness and bias, and we’re saying, damn it, we can’t just let this keep going.” Source.
Of course this is 2020 because most of life can now happen at a click of a button. It was a 17-year old who videoed George Floyd’ death. Just a click of a button caused change.
I see and feel this similar spirit from what I read about 1968. It’s all hindsight learning for me but from the movies, magazines, pictures, and research I’ve done, this summer has the same feel. It has the feel of upheaval. Especially for Gen Z.
Protesting has never been more popular. From a YPulse survey, 80 percent of 13-39-year-olds say they have supported the Black Lives Matter protests with 47 percent saying they have participated in the movement in some way. (Ypulse, July 8, 2020) That is a lot of participation. Has it become “cool” to protest because 2020 has limited so many of our other entertainment possibilities? Maybe. I’m choosing to believe that this is one of those moments in history when change is happening and our young people see it and they want to have a part in it.
Another YPulse survey showed that 71 percent of teens believe that climate change is an immediate threat to life. (YPulse, April 20, 2020) Another large percentage. Check out teen YouTube and TikTok videos. (YPulse also found that 51% of 13-18-year-olds use TikTok to obtain news and information about climate change, September 30, 2020.) Check out the news. We began 2020 with Australia burning. Now the West Coast is burning and losing record acreage of forest. We’ve had so many hurricanes that we’ve run out of alphabet names and need to use the Greek alphabet.
Teens really believe that climate change is destroying the earth and that their generation might be the last. To teens the end of the world is coming but they aren’t looking to the skies for the rapture.
I grew up in the 1970s when Christians were sure that Jesus was going to return soon. We watched the movies “A Thief in the Night” (full movie available on YouTube) and “A Distant Thunder” (also full movie available on YouTube complete with warning for children). Those movies filled us with fear and we made decisions worrying if Jesus would return at that very moment we were sinning.
Today’s teens don’t have that kind of fear. Their fear is waiting for us adults to continue to destroy the planet so they will not be able to grow old on this planet. Or waiting on the government, CDC, or someone to approve a vaccine so some sort of normal may return. Or waiting on change to happen when it comes to policing, guns, and anything having to do with politics—because surely us adults are going to screw up this moment of change.
This fear has only been strengthened from the COVID-19 worldwide timeout. It took only a month of sheltering-in-place for the earth to show signs of healing. It took the next month for the majority of adults to finally see the systemic racism that is still a part of our culture. Our whole world has shifted in a few short months.
But is our world shifting towards Jesus? With all of this change and the fear that is now ever present with us, are we seeing a need for a Savior? Or are we trying to continue to save ourselves with our technology, good works, activism, and powering over?
What this Summer of Change has exposed are sins. Sins to other people; sins that have allowed systems to stay in place and harm the identity of souls; sins to Planet Earth.
Will we repent of these sins or continue with our technology, good works, activism, and powering over?
Adults, don’t miss this moment. Don’t fail this generation.
Summer of Discomfort maybe what you want to call this. When you deal with issues of race, class, and culture—or really anything to do with systemic change–we feel four emotions: grief, anger, fear, and shame. We don’t deal with any of these emotions in healthy ways when things are normal. Things are not normal right now.
Perhaps it is in this vulnerability and discomfort that our teens—and adults–can meet a Savior. A savior who isn’t them.
I would love to say we are on the verge of a revival like what happened out of that Summer of Love in 1968. I don’t know. But I do know that teens have never been more anxious as having a Savior has become less of an option. Jesus can be found on Google but Jesus hasn’t been a search option for quite some time.
Paying attention to this fear and discontent may be a way we can reach the teens with the good news of Jesus. Because God loves his world. God loves his creation. He has the whole world in his hands. (Another ‘70s reference!)
Adults, don’t miss this moment. Don’t fail this generation. Embrace the discomfort and take part in the change. You may not be leading this change (you don’t have to) but you certainly can help. Be in for the marathon so change can happen.