Crabby Old Lady: It All Goes Wrong From the Neck Up
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A Time Goes By Manifesto for Our Political Era

We are living in precarious, uncertain and frightening times when new crimes, corruption and lies are revealed nearly every day and no one is held accountable.

It would not be wrong to call this a national emergency - a world (who of us could ever have imagined this in our lifetimes?) where a U.S. president gives himself permission to commit America to god-knows-what with a foreign adversary, does it in secret and never tells anyone – anyone at all – what those commitments are.

At the top of my list of concerns for the moment (it vacillates by the hour) are the baby cages and asylum-seeker jails which more rightly should be called concentration camps with all the shame of 20th century history that attaches to them.

In the greater scheme of things an argument might be made that in service to the longer term, a president who sides politically with our country's greatest enemy and is willing to turn over American citizens to that government for interrogation requires more attention than those kiddie camps.

But do we really want to try to rank what are all deeply evil horrors?

It has become apparent that no one in charge of anything has the power or the will to stop what increasingly looks like a headlong dive into a new American regime of authoritarianism which, of course in everyday usage, is just another word for fascism.

And it's not only the United States. Terrible things are happening almost daily to the ideals of liberty and democracy abroad.

In the latest event to send a chill down the spines of most people, a far-right politician in Austria last week put forth a plan to require Jews to register with the government in order to purchase kosher meat. Some have wondered if registration will soon apply to Muslims who purchase halal food too.

So I think that although for 15 years this blog has been dedicated 100 percent to an ongoing conversation about “what it's really like to get old,” something else too big and too serious to ignore also needs our attention.

It took a lot of pondering to make this decision until I realized that especially during a period when there is a sufficient threat to America's people, our Constitution and to the world order to which my country belongs, it is necessary.

It is necessary, I have come to believe, for this blog by, for and about elders, to make our voices heard even if only among ourselves, even if only to try to understand among ourselves what is happening and what or if we can do anything. Not an easy goal.

Most of all, I have come to believe this because if I continue in these pages to ignore our unprecedented political predicament, I then am complicit with the culture at large I regularly denounce for sidelining old people by ignoring them, dismissing them and removing them from the public stage.

So from time-to-time, I will take a day for us to address these urgent troubles. Certainly not every day and not even every week. But when it feels necessary.

Let's give it a try for awhile.

* * *

Today's Blog Post
At the risk of making this post too long for you to endure, here is the first entry in this experiment.

During the days and weeks I spent working out whether I would run with this idea, I pulled out my copy of a little book of essays published in 1954 that I read in about 1960: Portraits from Memory which I haven't dipped into in at least a decade, maybe two.

It was written by then-80-something Bertrand Russell, the Nobel Prize-winning philosopher, mathematician and peace activist.

Most of the essays are from the years surrounding his 80th birthday and as you might expect, there is a summing up quality to them. What surprises me is how much his thoughts on social and political issues from more than 60 years ago could almost have been written last week.

Perhaps there really is nothing new under the sun, and these short excerpts should give us some perspective on our current difficulties. In reading these, recall that in the mid-1950s, the outcome and meaning of World War II were still being debated.

It is worth keeping President Trump in mind while reading Russell's estimate of what makes a good life and a good community:

”A readiness to adapt oneself to the facts of the real world is often praised as a virtue, and in part it is. It is a bad thing to close one's eyes to fact or to fail to admit them because they are unwelcome.

“But it is also a bad thing to assume that whatever is in the ascendant must be right, that regard for fact demands subservience to evil. Even worse than conscious subservience to evil, is the self-deception which denies that it is evil.”

Keep President Trump in mind again as Russell tells us that the ideals he thought were primary when he was young should still prevail:

”I think I should put first, security against extreme disaster such as that threatened by modern war. I should put second, the abolition of extreme poverty throughout the world.

“Third, as a result of security and economic well being, a general growth of tolerance and kindly feeling. Fourth, the greatest possible opportunity for personal initiative in ways not harmful to the community.

“All these things are possible, and all would come about if men chose.”

Although Russell exhibits an overall optimism for the future (viewed from the mid-1950s), he also has doubts, certainly for the immediate future at that time, and again seems to describe our situation today:

”The last half of my life has been lived in one of those painful epochs of human history during which the world is getting worse, and past victories which had seemed to be definitive have turned out to be only temporary.”
I have had always a certain degree of optimism, although, as I have grown older, the optimism has grown more sober and the happy issue more distant.”
”In the modern world, if communities are unhappy, it is because they choose to be so. Or, to speak more precisely, because they have ignorance, habits, beliefs, and passions, which are dearer to them than happiness or even life...

“To preserve hope in our world makes calls upon our intelligence and our energy. In those who despair it is very frequently the energy that is lacking.”

Again, it is uncanny to me how Russell's words seem almost to be in response to today's daily headlines. A couple more:

”Diversity is essential in spite of the fact that it precludes universal acceptance of a single gospel. But to preach such a doctrine is difficult especially in arduous times. And perhaps it cannot be effective until some bitter lessons have been learned.”
”Communists, Fascists and Nazis have successively challenged all that I thought good, and in defeating them much of what their opponents have sought to preserve is being lost.

“Freedom has come to be thought weakness, and tolerance has been compelled to wear the garb of treachery. Old ideals are judged irrelevant, and no doctrine free from harshness commands respect.”

At the end of the essay titled, “Reflections on My Eightieth Birthday” (1952), Russell retains his hopeful belief that humankind will eventually attain a world of harmony and good:

”I have lived in pursuit of a vision, both personal and social. Personal: to care for what is noble, for what is beautiful, for what is gentle; to allow moments of insight to give wisdom at more mundane times.

“Social: to see in imagination the society that is to be created, where individuals grow freely, and where hate and greed and envy die because there is nothing to nourish them.

“These things I believe, and the world, for all its horror, has left me unshaken.”

Now it's your turn.



Comments

Thoughtful post. Good idea, but this avid reader will skip participation in politics. On Facebook, I "unfollow" any person that posts political posts. I am a news nut from, many sources, who is already overly saturated with politics. I have places that I go to, like "Time goes by" and "Facebook", to get away from it all. I will continue to do so, but just skip these occasional posts.

I am glad you're going to tackle political issues from time to time. You're smart and do your research and can write in such a way that you can make sense of the senseless. More and more I hear people around me talk about what is essentially burying their heads in the sand and hoping things will get better. But thing are changing too rapidly for that! We must keep up to be informed voters! Evil grows in the dark like mushrooms.

I go to this site to get a perspective on the mysteries, adventures, and sorrows of aging. Certainly, politics affects us and we have responsibilities to stay informed and use what power we have to vote, engage, and support those causes we think are best for us and the larger community. To stay informed on politics I have other sites I frequent, like David Brooks at the NYTimes, PBS newshour, the Texas Observer, etc.

Is the world "going to hell in a handbasket?" Maybe. Sometimes I find myself glad I won't live long enough to see it happen. Sometimes I take refuge in the cosmic pictures from the Hubble telescope, or the dinosaur exhibit at the Witte Museum. Accepting the long view of what life is about is new to me in my old age. Did you know that a new Hubble will be launched in the next year or so that will send us pictures from the beginning of the universe? Sometimes I just dig into more familiar terrain and help register voters.

I would be interested if you did a post on how other people our age are coping with the current overheated political environment.

Thank you! This is important!

I, too, am frightened for the future of our country and our world. I work in a retirement community, so I am surrounded daily by the Greatest Generation folks (and others who have given service to our country) who are watching this situation deteriorate. Some are so upset by it that their depression and worry makes the monthly Resident Care Committee report.

I have always read that quote about for evil to prosper, all that needs to happen is for good to do nothing. My question is . . . what can I do?

Thank you, Ronni, for this post. I agree we need to pay attention and address the issues. Like someone said evil grows in the dark...
And Russell is somewhat comforting in his optimism, “To preserve hope in our world makes calls upon our intelligence and our energy. In those who despair it is very frequently the energy that is lacking.”

I’m paying close attention to what "45" is doing and somedays I just need to take a break and watch a silly movie or late night TV reruns on YouTube.
And, of course, my daily walk in the woods near me, or the clematis garden up the hill are what keep me grounded so I have the energy to hope.
I look forward to your ideas on the subject.💕

I look forward to your occasional political posts and the thoughtful comments by your readers. I see that some people don’t wish to participate, & understand that there is so much information & disinformation available that it becomes oppressive. However, I have found that you and your readers have intelligent, informative viewpoints to share, which I look forward to reading.

I am a senior city who lives in Scottsdale, AZ which is a very conservative area. The morning after the Presidential election I woke up very scared. I knew that Donald Trump was not the type of leader that I wanted to follow. I have not been politically active till this moment. I joined the Indivisible group in my area and was comforted by so many other people my age who were also concerned. We have done many protests, canvasing, writing to legislators, going to legislative sessions, etc. I like many of the readers here feel overwhelmed with the daily news of all the corruption, demeaning of people, lying and attacks on our institutions. It is hard to read the paper so I selectively read the articles. I don’t read many of the Trump articles because it is always the same - lies, negative attacks on people, hiding information, insulting our institutions, etc. I do read about what Congress is doing and other general subjects. I also read about the Russia situation as I consider that a real threat to us.

I know it takes a lot of effort to be politically active but the one thing I believe we need to do is VOTE.
I think the Republican party needs to loose in the upcoming elections both state and federal. This will be the only way that they will return to the middle of the road. If they continue to win, through whatever means they can, we will continue to have the type of political environment we are suffering from now. I encourage everyone to get out and VOTE - to protect our Democracy.

Yes, yes, yes, and yes. As always, Ronnie, you're right on it. A European said of Americans that we think it can't happen here, but Europeans recognize the lead up to fascism, and that we are in that lead up now. So it is scarey. And we are old. I sat at the bedside of an 86 year old dying woman recently, who, with a few tears brimming, said, "I can't DO anything, all I can do is lie here and pray." Well, she is doing something. Whatever we can do, or know how to do, we must do. Does it do any good to sign all these on-line petitions? I don't know, I sign them, in hopes that it does. Does it do any good to go to the nearest small town and walk around the courthouse with a sign that says, "Made by immigrants," on an image of the U.S.A.? Hope so. Let's talk about what we, the old can, are willing to do.

Thanks for opening this topic. I like Diane D's comment. How are we older folks coping and responding to the current political, social, and spiritual environment? I for one vacillate between not wanting to pay attention and viewing it like a train wreck - being drawn to watching with horror.

I am a facilitator with a contemplative community that in the past hasn't addressed politics. Around the 2016 election a small group came together to watch the Harvard School series about "becoming involved politically." From there we facilitated an 8- month, once a month series discussion with 20 participants, of Joanna Macy's book Active Hope and theologian Beatrice Bruteau's book Radical Optimism. This year we are using Margaret Silf's books Hidden Wings and Born to Fly about transformation - using the imaginal cell as primary focus.
Silf a Brit, writes, "Simply ignoring...deep social wounds, in the hope that they will go away, is also running counter to the very principle of democracy and is tantamount to suppressing opposition. In fact, of course, healthy democracy absolutely needs healthy opposition to keep calling the government of the day, or the decision of the hour, to account."
But always the fact remains, it is so big, what to do? What to do?

Thank you for doing this, Ronnie. I'm in support, and look forward to your future writings (and suggestions of what to do).

I agree we cannot afford to ignore the destruction of our country and our community. It is deeply relevant to seniors/elderly (just call me old!) people. And there are enough of us to be a political force of we can organise.

The thing that scares me the most, I think, is that Trump has opened so many fronts in his war on our society that those who disagree hardly know where to start in fighting them, and this has resulted in a certain immobilization. Many good people I know are "deer in headlights" and end up crouching with their hands over their heads, trying to protect themselves from the next blow. Indeed, that's how I see the leadership of the Democratic Party these days. They've been so outmaneuvered that they have zero power in Congress, so they're waiting and hoping that the midterms will bring some relief.

I've come to believe that traditional protests, with the carrying of signs and disrupting of traffic, do very little good. Those in power don't care what the masses think, because they've used a combination of gerrymandering, catering to wealthy donors and voter suppression to make themselves unbeatable.

So, what to do? Good question. The Republicans created this situation by playing a long game. They funded think tanks to map out a winning strategy. They carefully built up majorities in state legislatures and governorships, and they saw to the appointment of conservative judges at every level. The Democrats need to do the same. If the national leadership could stop playing defense and instead work on a longterm plan, we might get somewhere. Imagine a nationwide push, calling all people who oppose what's happening to the table to construct a vision of a fairer society, then pulling in strategic thinkers to figure out how to make that vision a reality. It would take a while, but it could be done. I would gladly participate in such an effort; I'm sure a lot of people would.

I have always welcomed your political topical comments, Ronni. And I very much welcome your manifesto, and entirely agree that to ignore all of this is at our own peril.

I am full of thoughts about all this. I do NOT want to avoid what is going on -- as a person who has spent her entire professional life [but also before and after that time] trying to come to grips with the history of Germany, especially during the 1933-1945 period, I am quite familiar with the tensions between self-preservation, i.e. avoidance, and the inherent dangers in such avoidance.

I also spend too much time with reading and listening to all the news I can get my hands on. And I try to pay attention to my own moods: the terror - the fury! - I feel when I read or hear of the latest hideous thing. The pain and indeed the agony I experience when I dwell on those completely innocent children who are being callously used by our so-called head of state -- but also the encouragement I feel when I hear or read about the burgeoning Indivisible groups like that mentioned by Joan.

There are many ways, both positive and negative, to react to it all. Your determination to speak up is an absolutely necessary one. I welcome your statement -- "Most of all, I have come to believe this because if I continue in these pages to ignore our unprecedented political predicament, I then am complicit with the culture at large I regularly denounce for sidelining old people by ignoring them, dismissing them and removing them from the public stage."

At the same time, I am fully aware of the pitfalls that can arise. I feel them in my very self - this constant inundation in news that seems more impossible, more evil every day tends to weaken me, make me paradoxically less likely to ACT than it should. The mere knowledge of evil does not necessarily lead to positive action; it can just bring one to a sort of paralysis.

So yes, I am all in favor of your plan. I also second Salinda and others who would welcome hearing from others as to how we all are coping.

----also a discussion of just such words as "coping" ---- those children, those parents would probably find such a word either self-evidently necessary or an example of a luxury that they do not possess.

If we do not remain alert -- and I fear that avoiding "alertness" leads only to passivity, to no action whatsoever, and that is scary -- we could well face even worse things down the road.

Sorry that I am stumbling. It is very hard to write these words. But I am grateful to you, Ronni, and to all those who comment.

"It is necessary, I have come to believe, for this blog by, for and about elders, to make our voices heard even if only among ourselves, even if only to try to understand among ourselves what is happening and what or if we can do anything. Not an easy goal."

Your words, Ronni, and you are right to try to make our voices heard. Todays political climate IS a concern for elders, but Reading Bertrand Russell's words won't get anything done.

Remember Harry Truman's Do Nothing Congress? Every one of us has the power to help remove our present Do Nothing Congress - every one of us that has the vote. Use your influence with your readers to help improve the shameful low percentage of citizens who actually vote.

I saw a headline yesterday suggesting that the only reason people still support Trump is because he hates the same people they hate. Is that really what we've come to in this country? It sickens me, and yet the signs are everywhere as normal, polite society seems to be breaking down.

The most important thing any of us can do now, I believe, is vote. Vote in November, from your city council all the way up to Congress. Send an unmistakable message that we the people will not stand for what's happening now or for elected officials who enable it, either through their action or their inaction.

I woke up the other day dreaming of a huge demonstration in Washington. Hundreds of thousands marching united in their opposition to Trump, his traitorous performance in Helsinki, his invitation to Putin, his treatment of women and immigrants, and so much more. A demonstration as big as the women's march, or bigger, to show the world that Trump is NOT America and that most Americans reject him.

Thanks Ronni. I applaud your decision to address the current crisis. Like others, I vacillate between needing to DO something and wanting just to focus on what makes my life feel worthwhile. As if tending my own little garden could save the world. All the time, one foot in either camp, I fight an underlying despair. I have a friend who works at a food bank. Another who, sword drawn, is fighting Trumpism on all fronts. I do not have her energy. I give money, write postcards, attend an occasional, very occasional rally. And try to live my life as if all were well. I too would be interested in what others are doing. This is the first time I my life I've wished I were a lawyer, because I believe the courts are our best defense, though Trump is quietly (does he ever do anything quietly?) stacking them with right wingers. Never mind SCOTUS!

I would only like to recommend a very small book that was published in 2017.
ON TYRANNY: Twenty Lessons from the 20th Century by Timothy Snyder.
Faith

I agree with Jean R. that "evil grows in the dark like mushrooms." Ronnie has brought light to issues that many of us have dealt with or will deal with, directly or indirectly, in our lives or our loved ones' lives, but what has the power to affect ALL of us at every age more than the deterioration of our democracy?

I get news from many sources, but I greatly appreciate Ronnie's insights about that news and the opportunity she gives others to share their thoughts. Sharing helps build ideas and motivation so that each of us, in our own way, may feel more empowered to do something rather than sitting on our hands, keeping our mouths shut, and burying our heads in the sand.

It seems that our country is on the precipice of changing as a country into the opposite of what America has stood for, and that we are in danger of losing the freedoms that are so basic and necessary in our lives.

Thank you, Ronnie, for standing up and speaking about what is vital to us all and for giving us this place to come together.

My work shows me that staying in a state of hypervigilance and alertness at all times can not be sustained and is not healthy. Like most here, I feel it is critical not to despair, but to keep in mind what and how one can make a difference in one's own life, to create the community internally and externally one wants to live in, and also to stand up in all ways possible for what we believe to be healthy and based in human rights. We're being flooded with ongoing passivity in the face of outrageous acts that are demoralizing our citizens and tearing down our country. We are passaging from our beliefs, often false, that America is the greatest country on earth, and being faced with the reality that we are a work in progress, perhaps moving through adolescence in regards to our arrogance. We have so much to be proud of as a country, and we are young and in crisis right now in regards to our democratic ideals. So, I went off (sorry), but I for one welcome your non-despairing clarity in regards to political issues as an "add" to the fun and interesting topics I enjoy here. Thank you.

I keep saying, we have not seen the worst of this administration, and every day there seems to be another "worst," yet there will be more to come. I have seriously begun to think about how I can escape if the time comes. Or, how to survive if we are overtaken by a foreign regime. This is becoming more likely each day. What will life look like if all of our liberties are stripped away?

I applaud you for discussing this. It's really not political, but more about survival.

Ronni,

Thank you for going directly to the angst we all share. The above response demonstrates the need for your manifesto. Carry on!

Ronni thank you. You are terrific. Your readership is terrific. What a community of solidarity. We have to fight even as it gets more incomprehensible.. that's part of all this news/fake news - to make one so overwhelmed you just de-tune. This morning I wrote an OP Ed letter to the NYT. I know it will never get published there, so I'm taking the liberty of publishing it here !

Re: To the Editor
Annihilation of the Species

“Martha” died four years ago. She was the last of the passenger pigeons. Once the skies were
dark with their migrations. “Donald Trump and the Decline of the Species” (July 25) while poetically highlighting the ravages of slashing the Endangered Species Act doesn’t go far enough. It is nothing less that the annihilation of the species, well documented by the scientists Gerardo Ceballos, Anne and Paul Ehrlich in their book, "The Annihilation of Nature. :Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals" . Ehrlich likened the decline of the species to rivets being pulled out of airplane wings as you are about to take off. It seems we are in the sixth mass extinction of life on earth.
Monarch butterflies. those exquisite harbingers of sounding the alarm in climate change are becoming extinct. The staff of The Daily News was halved. CNN according to our president is “fake news”.
Yesterday it was the monarch butterflies and The Daily News
Tomorrow it will be The New York Times and our Democracy.

I am so glad to see you recognize the importance of addressing the current state of our Country on your blog - Thank you .. The one thing I plan on doing is encourage people who don't usually vote and are not really interested in politics to register to vote and then vote - I volunteer at a senior low income center and hope to be instrumental in helping these people register (if need be) and make sure they have transportation to the polls - I will nag my extended family into doing the same thing - together we can and will make a difference. This is so important right now - the current situation is unbelievable - it's as thou the devil himself is among us - he must be stopped. Or we will all pay.. History does repeat itself I guess.

Brava. And thanks for bringing up Russell, one of my favorites.

Thanks for addressing this Ronni. It is the state of the world we live in and not a time to stick one's head in the sand. I may not outlive this but our children and grandchildren will certainly have to deal with. I've been encouraging people to vote, showing them how to register and participating in marches for the first time in years. I've also started going back to the gym so I can shake off some of the angst my body seems to be holding from the daily news.

I appreciate your concerns but I feel sometimes that this is like preaching to the choir. While I will read all of your posts because you are such a good writer and often bring up conversations we need to have, I will say that the most important thing we can do now is get involved in the fall elections. I live in a D. state but the east side of the state is R. I am involved in a campaign to send a D. to Congress. So putting out posters and canvassing and giving $ are what I am about these days. It is not all about Trump - those who continue to support him are equally to blame.

Agree 100% from Canada.

Feels like we are walking a hot tightrope with you.

Allies.

Resist.

Great idea! I don't think it wise or healthy to avoid the elephant in the room. Too much is at stake. Not talking about an issue does not make it go away. We need to be as informed as we possibly can be.

While I find the Trump presidency an ongoing horror show, there is an issue that also greatly bothers me: How can there be MILLIONS of people who voted for him and still support him? I could understand a group of people here and there who like and believe him. But MILLIONS?

Add to that a GOP that will do nothing about Trump. They are allowing our democracy to be whittled away; bit by bit.

My one great hope and desire is that people will register to vote. And then, in November I hope they will vote. If one doesn't vote, one shouldn't complain. Period.

My thoughts have been whirring in my mind like fruit in a blender. There is so much I want to say on this topic, but I will try to limit myself to just a few.

First, I think that the state of our government is the most important issue we face today. If you want to keep your Social Security checks arriving monthly you really can't afford to ignore what is going on. So, thank you Ronni for giving this the importance it deserves.

My biggest fear and disappointment are the number of people who support this lying, corrupt immoral man. I have tried to find out why they do when his mafia type governing is so in their face. A quote comes to mind. Lincoln's famous "You can fool some of the people some some of the time,others all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time." I have tried to understand the hatred and vindictiveness of the supporters of 45, read numerous theories as to why they support a man who does the exact opposite of what they profess to believe and against their own best interests. I have come to the conclusion that it's willful ignorance and you will not change their minds, so stop wasting energy on it.

Instead, we can bombard our representatives in Congress with letters, e-mails and phone calls objecting to every vile action the Administration takes. They may not agree with us, but they want to be re-elected and an large push back does get their attention. They can ignore the numerous petitions, but not personal grievances signed by a constituent.

Next you can pay attention to your local government and help elect those who agree with you. More and more this becomes most important and doable.

When you become discouraged and think I am only one person. It's so overwhelming and I will just hide and not upset myself remember the causes that were started by one dedicated person - prohibition, woman's vote, et; al. So many other changes have occurred due to the anger and never ending fight of just one person.

Next, study the issues and come to a debate with knowledge and facts and confront those who spout propaganda.

Santayana was right when he said that those who do not study history and doomed to repeat it.

I am one of a dying breed who lived during the Great Depression and World War II and it took the drastic tragedy of both to get rid of the power of the Oligarchs and start the country down a road of sensible reforms resulting in the best of times. But the Oligarch's did not go down willingly - they just went underground and plotted their way to power again. It has taken a long time, but we are now seeing the success of their tactics. It was successful because the public became complacent and were not patriotic enough to pay attention to what was happening.

Okay, now we are in this mess so do what you can. The hope is in the youth of today so make sure your schools are teaching Civics and cognitive thinking. Education is the only way to fight the Powerful greedy politicians. An educated electorate means powerful numbers that terrify the few who are destroying democracy now. So join in protests in as much as physically able. There are a lot more of us than of them.

I agree with the great majority of TGB readers/commenters. Daily I vacillate back and forth between the need to do SOMETHING and accepting that I have reached an age when I can no longer do MUCH. Lengthy, sign-waving protests involving big crowds of people are beyond my physical capacity, and I've never been much good at working phones. I don't have sufficient "discretionary" funds to make much difference, although I contribute to progressive causes and candidates when I can.

I absolutely can and will vote, and I also encourage like-minded residents of my 55+ community to do likewise. Unfortunately, I fear that perhaps half of them actually support The Orange Baboon, which is beyond disheartening since there is no way that logic or facts will prevail--their minds are made up no matter what tRump actually says or does. Now that I'm retired I no longer have a wide social network, but most of my old work friends are/would be as appalled by the current state of the nation as I am.

There are a LOT of us older people, and if enough of us can form a coherent, cohesive voice against the scary, corrupt, narcissistic bully in the Oval Office, we might actually be heard, especially if others can be persuaded to join us. My state has mail-in ballots so there's not a lot we can do to GOTV here, but maybe I'm overlooking something. . .

Thank you Ronni for the spirit you have to 'preach' now and then to your 'Choir'....and to all the 'Choir' voices singing along today. I have seen a common thread in comments from older folks over the last few months even on TGB of a sense of helplessness. Me too!! My nurse friends still working speak of depression and suicide rates climbing, etc. etc.

My son and his wife make the phone calls to our Representatives in DC. We send post cards to the Senators as they don't have to be 'strip-searched' first....and still the beat goes on. But for me, housebound with no FaceBook, Twitter, or Instagram interest, I can still email. I have started doing just that, writing to the Investigating Reporters, Op-Ed contributors like David Brooks, Democracy Now, and others I admire and read; knowing full well their desk-top inbox is likely crowded and it may not matter except to me.

I expected nothing back but felt the need to offer support and thanks for their efforts. It was something I could do. They have the intellectual sophistication and emotional discipline necessary to voice thoughts with clear vision. And they DO get published.

It feels like hope to me when journalists continue to voice my thoughts in ways far beyond my skills. It combats the weary sadness and fear so many of my 'vintage' feel now. My first effort was about a particular Op-Ed Timothy O'Brien wrote on Bloomberg/Newsroom. To my surprise, I received a gracious thank you note the same afternoon telling me this..." It means the world to me to have an attentive and thoughtful reader like you. Thank you for taking the time to write". There was more that made it personal and I knew it wasn't just a form letter.

So there it is.... 'something' I can do that matters. Media or "The Fourth Estate" feels like all we have to save our country and freedoms now. We will need more writers who can remember what freedom is supposed to feel like and have ''the power of the pen" as mightier than the sword. The source of the old saying evades this 80 y/o brain at the moment but it is still true. Doing something always feels more hopeful to me than doing nothing.

Ronni, I am so very heartened not only by your leaping into this area of discourse but also by the overwhelmingly supportive responses of almost all the comments! These are difficult times, and they are not going to change without the concerted efforts of ALL of us. Thank you, Ronni, and all of you!!

Charlene, I SO agree. We need all the writers and others we can get who remember what freedom sounds/reads like! For younger people it has become obvious that social media cannot be relied upon to present unfiltered factual information, and I fear that far too many older Americans rely on Faux News (aka: "Trump/State TV").

One thing I did during a past Presidential campaign might be worth considering again in 2020, and even for the November mid-term elections. I mailed 100+ postcards to elder voters who lived in retirement communities, assisted living facilities or nursing homes in blue/purple states with a brief handwritten message urging them to vote: "YOUR vote could make the difference!". I was a volunteer at a local Democrat campaign office at the time that had access to voter contact information--not sure how to obtain that now. I may not have gotten out even one more vote, but at least I was doing something.

Thank you, Ronni, for making explicit what has been an undercurrent on TGB ever since the shock of the 2017 election. I have empathy for those who resist the idea of TGB becoming a political forum---and I don't think that's what you intend---but I agree that we cannot ignore the world as it now is. What changed last November, and has become more apparent, is that the trajectory we thought was leading us to greater justice, equality and social decency has been smashed.

I have always been concerned about the politics of diversity, peace, environmentalism and other liberal (with a small l) causes. Ageism was certainly part of that, and I first began to read and comment in TGB because of its focus on how we grow old. But post-Trump I have posted less frequently on TGB and more frequently in on-line outlets like the NY Times and WaPo, to which I became a subscriber specifically to support the efforts of journalists to expose the offenses of this new world order.

I comment in the NY Times because all comments are reviewed and are thus more thoughtful and better written. My posts may not reach a huge audience, but the evidence shows that they are read by a significant number. I feel very strongly that those of us who have lived through history have a special perspective which we are obligated to share with younger generations. To that end, I often mention my age when I comment because I want it known that my opinions have the weight of experience.

If much of what happens these days goes unpunished and even unnoticed, then it is up to those of us who do notice to make our voices heard. I certainly don't disparage participation in marches or demonstrations. I participated in many of them in younger, healthier days. And signing petitions or writing to legislators are all part of the larger effort, but they can get lost in the inbox. To ensure that we have an impact, we must have an audience.

Now that we are less able to get out there and walk the precinct or carry a sign, we can still use our writing ability---and TGB readers have plenty of that---to get our message out to whoever will see it and think about it. We can do that without losing interest in the political or personal issues of aging that have concerned us.

Good for you!

Your commentary here has always been welcome since I first visited TGB in 2006 whether or not I always agreed. What I appreciate is you provide information, document your sources, often analyze the pertinent points, note conflicting views, then ... most importantly ... ask readers to think.

A site where dialogue can occur in a civil manner with no name calling, where stereotypical labeling of an individual by group terms, which may or may not apply, generally does not occur which makes this a blog I enjoy reading. I would certainly add TGB to my reading list of sites offering trustworthy content on all topics including politics where such sites are at a premium.

We all care about the state of our nation. We need to ask ourselves does each individual governmental action reflect our values and beliefs? Are our individual freedoms being protected? Are all people being treated equally as guaranteed by our constitution? Is our constitutional democratic republic being protected or undermined from within? Are our nation’s investigative systems receiving governmental leadership’s support for protecting our internal security, including our elections, or just getting lip service? There are many more unanswered questions.

What concerns older citizens affects every age — our children, grandchildren and every citizen in this country. Focusing solely on matters applying only to us old folks is unrealistically limiting since increasingly there is an element of politics lurking in governmental actions, or inactions today.

I look forward to your continuing to write here about whatever topics you feel compelled to write about on any subject.


Stirring words. I’m with Becky..what can I do? Well my phone rang after I read this and the caller invited me to help elect a progressive senator from our state. I will work on a phone bank next week (yes, it’s outside of my comfort zone.) I can’t sit idly by and do nothing as everything I hold dear (endangered species act, etc.) is being ripped up and thrown away. Pretty soon we won’t recognize our country (actually, I don’t now—concentration camps for immigrants?!!) What will YOU do?
For those who don’t want yet more politics and only want issues related to the stated topic of old age, well, another commenter revealed that people in senior centers are depressed because of the state of our country. Action is a good antidote for depression and seniors need to act! I like the idea of driving someone (or many) to the polls. Now I have to find out who needs a ride.

I am ALL IN with a civilized place to address "our urgent troubles."

Ann

I share yours and Bertrand Russell's values and concerns, Ronni, but I'm a little shaky about his optimism. I've written about that in my latest blog post: Fascism and Us: What Makes for a Credible Threat and Are We There Yet.

Thank you for addressing this. I think we are all living under a constant level of stress since the election.

Brilliant, as always. We have always needed to be MORE political as elders. Delighted to see enthusiasm here for voting, activating ourselves however we can in defense of participation. Thanks, Ronni.

Who should have been voted in as president? Hillary? That is more terrifying than anything I have read on these pages today.

Hear, hear! It is heartening that virtually all of the comments show that your readership is very much aligned when it comes to Hair Furor and his ilk. And, since affordable health care (to take just one example ) is one of the top concerns of seniors, and it is most definitely under attack, the politics of today IS part and parcel of how we age. Right on, Ronnie.

To Jean: I'd be interested to understand why you think Hillary would be a worse President than Trump. What would she have done that would be worse than where we are with the current administration.
I am asking this with a sincere effort to understand why people think this. I live in a very red State and I hear this around here quite often. Since I have to live with these folks I typically do not even broach the subject here but I am interested in hearing why people think this.

Per Linda, an idea of action might be to check those in care homes or housebound (via elderly services, meals-on-wheels type places, senior centers, retirement homes, etc.) for helping them register and/or vote.

Seniors are and will be even more in years to come a formidable voting bloc.

Let's get noisy.

As a Canadian I can't do much but hope Americans soon get their marching boots on. They stopped a war but can't stop that ugly, ignorant man?
I subscribe to the New York Times and am reasonably active in the Comments section (as "Betty in Toronto").
I am sorry to say it but I [and many people I know] no long buy products and food imported from the USA.
Good luck friends!❤️

I meant to say - posting in the NYT makes me feel better and might do the same for anyone who feels so impotent in this situation.

Ronni, Please Write-On!

A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within. ~ Will Durant

504 E. Cardinal St.
I found your article very interesting.
I am 87 years old. I have witnessed Presidential elections from FDR until now.
I am a Veteran of two so called wars. Both of which were lead into by the leaders we chose. I include myself because I have voted in every election since I became eligible.
I served over 20 years in the Military. I faithfully went where I was told to go. I did what I was told to do the way I was told to do it.
I have noted the immorality of Presidents starting with FDR, etal. I have noted the arrogance of Presidents, Congressmen and Military leaders time and time again.
We have in the past witnessed conduct from our leaders that have lead to thousands of young men losing their lives
I have witnessed the greed of corporations and big pharmacy companies for years.
My point is "What is new." The crap that is going on now is just a different manifestation of the same. I am not upholding Trump and his people. I am saying : It isn't new; yes, but is no more disgusting than several other administrations in the past
I have the same concerns my parents had and the have been gone a long time.
I am a history student. I have an extensive background of studying history.
I long ago lost any hope of living getting any better.....I only see increasing turmoil and strife. So, I am unlike Russell. My hope for the future is but a faint glow if what it once was.
No one wishes more that I am wrong in my vision than I am.

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