My recent interview with David Mills, author of 10,000 Days, got me to thinking about the cultural revolution of the 1960’s and 70’s. Being a product of the depression, my involvement was to sit back and look on in amazement as we seemed to shift into the high gear of a revolt of sorts.
Young people were busy then, ripe with lofty ideals about clean air, clean water, a cleaner environment and making the earth we live on a cleaner and safer place. They spoke out, paraded, chanted, ranted, raved and demonstrated, not all that bad, those efforts did indeed bring about some change.
If you’d rather hear the podcast, it’s here. mar-27-opinion.mp3
Sadly, many showed a total disregard for themselves and our national dignity. Drugs got in the way, with songs glamorizing getting loaded, smoking pot, taking a trip, zoning out, drinking, retreating from reality in hopes of finding nirvana in substance. For many, life went on without them. Unfortunately, some people, caught up in the drug culture, passed it on and we’re left with a national disgrace.
The reality of life finally prompted most to get their lives together, finish their education, find a job, raise a family and contribute to a society once so soundly denounced.
In the process, they succumbed to the siren’s call of big industry; cheap fuel, plastics, fast foods, larger, faster cars, labor-saving gadgets, technology on the fast track, make everything easier and more attractive. Bigger was better, keeping up with the Joneses while keeping their heads above water seemed to be the national challenge.
Culture, it seems, gave way to materialism and self-gratification.
A president was murdered, young men died in a useless war, racism was confronted and a minority leader was shot to death. We faced the threat of a nuclear holocaust, and a president resigned in disgrace. Those were tumultuous, sad and unsettling times.
The big “We”, became the big “ME”. Millions lost their way, the environment started to stink, and suddenly appear very tired of our self-serving excesses.
Today, we realize how easy it is to talk bringing about change, and so hard to get it done.
Dave Mills is right Baby Boomers, it’s time to put up or finally shut up, Put your money where your mouths were 40 years ago. You’ve ridden out the storm, paid your dues, crossed over into the second half of your personal century, and now it’s time to get busy.
You haven’t left much of a legacy for your descendants either, except to hand them a broom and mop, saying “sorry, we made a mess, but you can clean it up”.
In all fairness to Baby Boomers, my generation just got a head-start. We recovered from a depression, won a world war and then settled into the same lifestyle.
You have life experience, knowledge, and talent sharpened with hard work and determination.
I recall a TV ad that says, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” You aren’t old, you’ve ripened and matured, and you possess wisdom and the skills to give back to the community and society that helped you get this far.
True, as you approach retirement, you have the right to look forward to leisure times, give up that 9 to 5 mentality and make your own rules.
Health issues will always be there. Some of you will be more able financially and physically to volunteer at schools, and at an almost endless variety of non-profits and community programs that need you so desperately.
Joining the Green Options family a year ago, as we used to say, pulled my shorts up tight. Here I was, surrounded by intelligent youngsters alive with the flame of environmental activism, and I caught the fever.
Ok, so I call them youngsters, at 77 I can say that, most are young enough to be my grandchildren.
What a great place to be, among people who’ve accepted me and given me purpose again.
I talked a moment ago about seniors getting out of the 9 to 5 rat race and making their own rules. It sure felt good to me, for a few days at least, but there was this nagging feeling that I’m no longer useful, a left-over I suppose from my mid-western work ethic, work you S-O-B, work.
I’ve heard from other retirees who, suddenly faced with leisure time and in many cases a limited income, have experienced that same feeling of no longer being needed. I suspect many of you Boomers will experience those same feelings.
Here’s your way out, plan for your retirement, look at those opportunities to serve that offer you an outlet for that pent-up energy, and a feeling of accomplishment. Play golf, travel, have fun, enjoy the rewards you so richly deserve, but save some time for us.
There’s a lot to be done, the world needs you, we need you.