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Friday, December 6, 2013

Seasoned Citizens Unite!

Every once in a while, something sticks in our brains, besides nutty old songs or trying to remember someone’s name. My aha! moment came out of a class I do, called “Aging with Pizzazz,” that started out meaning aging ‘with health and humor’. I’ve since broaded that definition of pizzazz to be aging with passion. Pizzazz passion drives us to take care of ourselves physically so we have the stamina to follow our dreams, mentally to stay sharp and challenged, ethically to live an honest life; but most importantly, to age with the passion to energize and empower other people around us, and leave this world a better place than we found it.

We all have issues about which we feel passionate. After all, we live in a pretty complex and scary world. After visiting remote tribes living on atolls that are three inches above sea level, and seeing the ice melt away from Kilimanjaro and breaking ice floes in Antarctica, I’ve returned home passionate about combating global warming. I’m thinking about forming a new group: Grannies Against Global Warming, but I’m not sure the acronym would work: GAGWA?
And while I very much care about this issue, my epiphany involves a greater cause: that of harnessing the activist power of 120+ million “seasoned citizens” to combat a multitude of issues. It makes all the sense in the world:

• We certainly have opinions! (Just ask our kids)
• We care what kind of world we are leaving our grandchildren.
• We have years of education and experience to bring to the table.
• We have the time to get involved.
• We have numbers! There are 76 million Baby Boomers and another 45 million of us between 61 and 90. That’s over 120 million experienced people who can make change happen.
• We want to focus beyond all the aches and pains that come with age.
• It’s a great way to embarrass our children and our grandchildren.
• There is a problem needing a solution to fit every one of us, and the world needs us -now!
So—May I convince you to give activism a try? Activism, not such a scary word, simply means finding a cause about which you feel strongly and taking some kind of positive action. Activism can take many forms. We can get involved with grassroots organizations already fighting for what we believe in, or we can engage in what I call: “single-handed feats of activism”:
• Resolving to be kind and validate every person we have contact with every day
• Tutoring a child (our world’s next great leader?)
• Raising money for cancer research
• Helping out at an animal shelter
• Working at a food pantry
• Writing a letter to an editor
• Pulling lonely people into a support network
• Being fully engaged in seeking positive solutions to tough problems.
We can be a force in this youth-oriented culture, and return to our activist roots. It starts by finding and channeling our passions into something that helps other people and our planet. It starts by letting our pizzazz shine, one person at a time. Seasoned citizens: our time is now!