Community//

Senior Activism in a Covid-19 Time

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I am thinking about Climate Change and how hard it has been to get people to pay attention to it when here comes a new, tiny biological thing … not even an organism … to teach us humility, to teach us humans how alike we all are, and to teach us to give it the respect it deserves.”   

This was posted on my blog, www.ElderChicks.com by a senior activist.

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My co-author, BJ Kittredge, and I eagerly anticipate the publishing of our book, How Seniors Are Saving the World:  Retirement Activism to the Rescue!  The publisher, Rowman & Littlefield, tells us it will be out in June; it already appears on Amazon for pre-sale.  The book celebrates the lives and passions of twenty-four seniors, aged sixty to ninety-five who devote time, talents, and energy to a fascinating variety of causes, some familiar and some that may be new to readers.  The book provides avenues to participate in their work or at least to appreciate it.

It is our hope that readers will regard seniors generally in an anti-Ageist light, realizing the value and wealth of wisdom and experience elders bring to the world.  Considering the growth of our aging population, the so-called “silver tsunami” we are experiencing, recognition of this cohort as a largely untapped resource may even be a key to flourishing as a society.

Only a few weeks ago, an army of committed elders were hard at work saving the world in so many ways, from stuffing envelopes or writing postcards to Washington, from marching to attending meetings of more than the now-restricted ten people, from fund-raising to running organizations they had started.  In what feels like the blink of an eye, even they must wonder, “What happens now?” “Is anyone, including me, listening to anything besides pandemic news?” “Is fear, especially for the health of my age cohort, overwhelming everything else?”

Have I lost the edge I seemed to be gaining in the fight against Ageism?

The New Humility

Our response to all of the above questions is tempered by what life has taught us about resilience, and the reminder humility teaches in the face of hubris.  Our causes matter and our devotion and commitment matter, but even they, and we, must pause to consider what the shift in attention means in our own lives. For many seniors, the last ten years has seen an awakening of a consciousness of our power, of the realization of how much we have to offer, and a burgeoning of efforts to create new bridges for collaboration among generations.  Devoting efforts to making the world a better place not only improves the world, but improves our own lives, making us realize how much we matter. For some, activism – meaning – a reason to get up every day. Messages meant for the best regarding our vulnerability to the tiny organism, however, make many of us feel as though we’re being put back in our place.

Pause for comeuppance.

Once again, we are being spoken to and about strictly (and for our own good, to be sure) as weak, perishable goods, the most expendable among the population.  The cautions are necessary and appreciated, but we have to remind ourselves that the attention to our presence and the part we play in saving the world still quietly goes on, to be given full expression as soon as we emerge from the current crisis, when we are once again visible and able to be heard.

Meanwhile, this might be a good time to remind ourselves that the most trusted of the panel we have been seeing daily is Dr. Anthony Fauci.  He is 79.


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