I often chat with a young person I know as they walk to the train station out of a rough neighbourhood that they work within. She is part of the ‘snowflake generation‘, the generation that gets derided by many of those from my own generation.
We chat and she walks, and we were doing that the other day when something went wrong. Suddenly I hear a commotion, a lady is ranting in the background. ‘I’ve had enough, I’ve had enough.’ Fear rises in me for my young friend as the phone goes quiet. Then I clearly hear what happens. A distressed lady who lives on the street with her partner has had her cup of coins stolen from her whilst she slept. Yes, whilst she slept on this rainy cold day someone has stolen the one thing between this woman and another day without food. My friend says sorry to her, as though this is my friend’s fault. ‘Here, it’s all I have, and it’s only 60p but you can have it.’ Then suddenly I hear my friend say. ‘Can I give you a hug’, and an embrace happens. Compassion mixes in with dampness, tears and body odour as they embrace. Suddenly she is walking again and through her sobs, we return to our conversation. Three days later the phone goes and it’s that time again. My friend the snowflake is on the way home and heading towards a shop. ‘What food do I buy for someone on the street’, she says. It seems for her a hug and a few coins are not enough. She has some money put aside and her intention is to bring these new found friends some food when she can. What a snowflake!
If you know one story from the teachings of the carpenter it is likely to be the parable that Jesus told of the Good Samaritan. You can read that story in Luke 10:25-37, but there is no need to as it is enacted in the text above. Every generation seems to believe that they were the golden generation and the youngsters that follow don’t know they have it made. However, it seems to me that the grouping together of a people under one banner, and assigning that group a set of attributes has caused nothing but pain in our history. Black, Jew, foreign, homeless, what images come to mind of the distress caused by assigning attributes to a group? Yet we continue to do just that as we label our sons and daughters the snowflake generation. From the group that I was privileged to be involved with, who would be given the label snowflake there are many different stories. There are two nurses, a teacher and a youth worker, all of whom had to fight to get to the point of being able to serve. There is a young man on a mission of compassion, a campaigner for social justice, and the man who reaches out to serve those who are so desperate they sell their own bodies. There are other stories as well, too many to list. Snowflakes every one of them!
In the original, Jesus is weaving the story of the Samaritan because He has been asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He tell’s the story and finishes with, “Go and do likewise.” Perhaps as we look around our world today and ponder what might improve it. As we look at all the fake news and wonder how did we end up here. As we ponder our part in this world being a better place there is a lesson to be re-learned from a snowflake generation. Perhaps we might take a look at them and go and do likewise.