October 2007
Billie Silvey
Right and Wrong
Our current attitudes and behavior have been influenced to a
great extent by the generation of the 40s.  They’ve been
called “the greatest generation,� and the war they
fought a “good war,� but the 40s were anything but
good for many people.  It may be a  useful exercise for us to
consider where they got it right and where they got it wrong.
1.  They got many things right in the area
of technology.
Technological advances meant a better life for many people.  
However, the same scientific advances that gave us the ability
to overcome time and space by envisioning the past and
visiting other parts of the world through television, also made
it possible for us to develop bombs that threaten the life and
peace of everyone in the world.
2.  They got many things right in their
sacrifices for freedom.
There is nothing more thrilling
than the joy of the people of
Paris as the U.S. Army rolled in
to free the city from the Nazis,
or of Jews freed from
concentration camps.  But we
imprisoned our own citizens in
internment camps set up for
Japanese-Americans, and
African- Americans who fought
for freedom in Europe faced
shocking discrimination when
they returned home.
3.  They seemed unaware of the needs
of some people.
For all their efforts to free Europe from
Hitler’s domination, there seemed
to be an almost intentional ignorance of
the horrors being perpetrated against
Jewish people in the Nazi
concentration camps.  And women,
though freed to hold jobs when they
were needed in the defense industry,
were expected to blithely surrender
them to returning soldiers.  A nation
that could understand that you couldnâ
€™t “keep them down on the farm
after they’ve seen Par-ee�
failed to appreciate that it might be
hard to keep some women barefoot
and pregnant after they’d felt they
were making a broader contribution.
4.  They seemed unaware of their own
People in the 40s felt very strongly that some things were
right and others wrong, while at the same time seeming blind
to other moral issues.  Such a realization should be humbling
to us as Christians.  We should wonder just how many of
our own moral judgments are true and which might be a
matter of prejudices and cultural preconceptions.  We
should think deeply and honestly evaluate our own beliefs
and behavior.  And we should have the humility to admit our
errors and make needed adjustments.  While we want to
learn from the good in those before us, we should seek to
avoid their failings.
Headlines of the 40s
A 40s Romance