The guest on this past week’s show (11/6/11: David Mills, author of 10000 Days: A Call to Arms for the Baby Boom Generation that asks of us “what do we plan to do with the last 10K productive days we have left after turning 50?”) believes we Boomers can use our past activist experience, combine it with the wisdom (hopefully) and decades of knowledge we’ve accumulated, and once again fix what’s wrong with our country.
This inspired me to ask this question of our followers on the show’s FB page: “Do you think we Boomers still have the collective to power to make great changes to society like we did in our youth?” (feel free to go to the page and be heard)
Here’s a few of the responses:
- “We have the collective power to make tremendous change. Need strong leadership and lots of people talking and sharing ideas.”
- “We can and we are…”
- “Sorry I believed we did in my youth but in the end I don’t feel we made a difference.”
Now, admittedly we’ve gotten the proverbial bad rap from the younger generations, feeling that we pursued what was in our own best interest at everyone else’s expense. And indeed, as I mentioned in my last post, once we got into positions of power, we did all the things we derided our elders for doing (bespoiling the land for profit; taking kick-backs for influence; filling our corporate coffers at the expense of our workers’ well-being) – only bigger and with less discretion.
But as a generation, we also propelled more positive societal changes than any other generation in the history of our nation. Hey, younger ones, enjoy the freedom to live together before you get married, and divorce without societal derision if you find you married the wrong person? Thank us. Ladies, glad you can no longer be overlooked for that big promotion simply because of your gender? Thank your local Boomer. And, for those of you who think clean air and water is a nifty idea, that river in Ohio would still be so toxic it’s on fire if not for our unwillingness to accept such polluting ways (for you kids, here’s the link for the back story on the burning river thing).
Well, my fellow Boomers, our time has come around again. We have the numbers, the power, the finances, and the experience, to make this country proud. We know how to use activism as an efficient tool for change. Unfortunately, right now, the only members of our generation using it well are the members of the tea party (45% of which are white, male Boomers). And I say “unfortunately” not because I disagree with their positions; it’s unfortunate because they are a minority of us – the rest of us are remaining dangerously disconnected from our immense ability to influence positive change.
Here is a brief list of powerful things we can do, individually and collectively, to regain our generational greatness as propellers of the social changes needed today, just as we so famously, and successfully did for those that were needed in the 1960’s/’70’s:
- Lead by example
Keep your promises; say what you mean/mean what you say; give more than you receive; be a mensch
- Get involved in something that betters things
Now that the kids are grown and if you’re not taking care of an elderly relative, give some of your time to something designed to make our world better, whether volunteering for a cause that tugs your heart, or pushing for needed changes in your community; at the very least, regularly communicate with your representatives so they know just what you want from them, and if you don’t get it, find someone who will do what you know needs doing
- Agitate for changes to the way Congress handles our nation’s business
A great place to start is by insisting on changes to the way Congress treats itself; if our little Princes & Princesses in DC are treated like the rest of us, we will have more true citizen representation – those who simply love the power will no longer want the job, and those who want the job will want to get the job done and go home. Here’s a petition I’ve started circulating to insist on just such changes; download it, sign it, and pass it on:
Petition to Congress
- Be a resource champion, not a resource hog
Did you know that the improvements to the environment we fought for and won 40 years ago, are in the past few years being undone? Air pollution is now worsening. Go back to your roots of good earth stewardship; we can start with eliminating our own wasteful habits, from things a simple as reusing rather than immediately disposing, to driving a more fuel efficient car and downsizing everything. And, become a proponent of both clean and renewable energy sources.
So, to that last respondent of the FB survey, I say; we absolutely made a difference – refusing to see our accomplishments, and build on them has been our mistake.
I believe it’s not a matter of being unable to make the changes we need, our children need, our grandchildren.
It’s a matter of being willing.