Something Big is Happening and It is Not the Virus
Daily Life When Time is Short

A TGB READER STORY: OK Boomers, It’s Time to Step Up

By Kathy Kaiser who blogs at Aging Journal.net

There’s been a lot of discussion about “OK, Boomer,” which can be read as a cynical, condescending brush-off of older people and their views.

A younger generation would like to blame us for all the ills of the world. Why didn’t we do something about climate change when there was still time to alter its course? And while younger people are struggling to pay off college debts and find affordable housing, the older generation ostensibly lives in comfort, having paid off mortgages a long time ago and carrying no college debt.

The truth, of course, is more complicated, as many seniors go into retirement with little savings and big medical bills. Also, when we were younger, many baby boomers were active politically: demonstrating against the war, starting environmental groups and recycling programs, joining civil rights protests and agitating for equal pay.

It’s true that in the olden days we lived in a world of apparent abundance (cheap housing and fuel, for example) that we took for granted. We could have - and should have - done more to make this world a better place, but who knew things would turn out so badly?

I can understand young people’s resentments, yet I think the world, which grows more polarized each day, needs us elders. Not because we’re wiser than other generations, but because by the time we reach old age, most of us have gotten rid of our egos.

Those of us who are no longer in the work world don’t have to prove ourselves anymore or defend our reputations. At our age, when we’ve lost so much - friends, spouses, good health and/or careers - we know that human relationships are what’s left, what gives meaning to our lives. If we’ve gained any wisdom at all through our long lives, it’s how to be a decent human being.

One of the advantages of being an older person is that we’re not perceived as threatening; in fact, we’re more likely seen as irrelevant. More than younger generations, we have the opportunity (time, for one thing) and capability of making this world a better place - in whatever way we can.

It can be something as simple as starting conversations with those we perceive as different or hostile; at the very least, we can soften harsh conversations by bringing gentleness or humor into the situation. At our age, we don’t have to worry that we’re making fools of ourselves, because the world already sees us that way. As elders, the worst that could happen is that we’re ignored.

Maybe we didn’t create this world - the worst we did was sit back and ignore situations that needed fixing - but we have some responsibility for making it a better place - if only for the generations to follow or to see the world we loved - and that nurtured us – survive.

If not us, who? If not now, when? Because we’re running out of time - both for ourselves and the planet.

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[EDITORIAL NOTE: Reader's stories are welcome. If you have not published here or not recently, please read submission instructions. Only one story per email.]

Comments

Indeed!

Absolutely, It can be something as simple as starting conversations with those we perceive as different or hostile; at the very least, we can soften harsh conversations by bringing gentleness or humor into the situation.
And remember to VOTE, speak up, and when in doubt talk about infrastructure, we can all agree that we need to improve that in our country. m

I've had wonderful and fun conversations with my college going grand nieces. Much is, " where were you and what did you think of a particular event . Both are smart kids with very curious minds. I still laugh when one asked, " Did you ever smoke pot"? My answer was, "yes and maybe I still do now and then". They laughed like hell! So, yes I believe in having broad brush conversations with those younger. I'm known as the straight shooter Aunt. I speak my mind, straight to the point.

We can vote, we can work in some capacity for Biden........there's a lot of phone banking going on now, and yes, we can give younger people a different perspective. Many of the demonstrations are too big for us, but many of us live near small towns, where they are also important, and manageable for us elders. We need to show up where and when we can. It feels to me important to read some history, social, political, ecological, to have an overview.........none of this just came out of nowhere. None of it is a one generation issue, for better or worse. To think that, is missing a lot of opportunities. Not that our generation didn't make mistakes, along with doing some things right.

I live in Fla. a state with many many boomers, of which I am one and I completely understand where the younger generations are coming from.

My thoughts are there was progress early on in the 60s/70s with civil rights, women’s rights, environmental issues, equal pay etc., but then it slipped away some.
And I don't understand why. Many of the boomers here are now very conservative and Big time trump supporters. How can that be? This I just don’t get.

However on the other side I saw a report today that if more blacks and more of the youth had simply voted in the Presidential election, especially in the swing states, we never would have had trump As President and the US and the world would look a lot better than it does now.

So my point is the youth have some very valid points, but they must get involved if they want things to change and at the very least, they must vote for change.

When I read these thoughtful and insightful posts, I feel a warm kinship with those who have posted... it helps to feel a part of a 'group' and helps make up for the loss of friends who have passed.

And...you know, it is a part of my morning ritual now, and I so look forward to your thoughts! (I am now living in a retirement home, and don't see my children as often as I might like, and my far-flung friends who are still in this world are missing... some with dementia, and I think that is sadder than missing through death!

Thanks to all of you, and especially you, Ronni!!! You are the glue that keeps me sane! (I am, I think???)


So well said, Kathy! Bravo! And if I can do nothing else as an old woman living in isolation, I will VOTE in November. I will march through heaven and hell if necessary to VOTE in November.

Appreciate your well-written piece. Even those of us preceding the Boomer generation made our contributions to create a more positive future. Fewer of us left now, but action in our daily lives with others made a difference then, so our stories shared with young ones demonstrate that’s ultimately what must occur for lasting change — beyond marches, protests, etc.

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