A couple of days before the election a group of my friends and I sat down for our monthly supper club and, like most of the country, our conversation was dominated by thoughts of where the country is headed, and what needs to be done to ensure that it is moving in the right direction. When I asked one boomer friend her thoughts, she replied, “I’m tired Peggy! It’s time for the younger generations to step up. We’ve done our part as activists. ” Over the following week as the election came and went and emotions in both parties ran high, I found myself thinking about my friend’s statement and how detrimental this attitude towards activism can be. While I understand just as much as the next boomer the feeling of fatigue that comes along with 30+ years of working full time and the desire to pass the baton to those younger than me, I also know that I spent much of those 30+ years speaking up and fighting for what I believe is right and I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop now.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed— to believe that your actions and words are not powerful enough to really make a difference. It’s easy to think you don’t have the time, and it’s certainly a lot easier to put the burden of change onto others rather than accept it as your responsibility as a citizen of this country and of the world. This disillusionment and lack of accountability is a serious problem that affects all of us and it is one we should not underestimate. These days, no one can afford to be tired. No matter where you stand, our country is changing and we are all responsible for making the future bright.
Now, I am a reasonable person and I know many people do not have the time to take to the streets and protest everyday, nor do they have the resources to donate to all the organizations they support or the influence to reach large numbers of people, but as my niece reminded me in a recent phone conversation, activism does not always have to be on a grand scale. As history has shown time and time again, often the smallest gestures make the biggest difference. In my niece’s case, she organized a group committed to regularly cleaning up the neighborhood: a simple gesture that will help to restore pride and togetherness in her community.
So, as we head into this crazy holiday season, I urge everyone to reflect upon the causes you are most passionate about, and find some simple ways you can get involved. Maybe you decide that you are no longer going to stand by quietly when you are in the presence of discrimination; or perhaps you adjust your schedule so you can volunteer at your favorite charity once or twice a month, or you take the time to get to know members of a community who may not share your same convictions. Whatever you choose, getting involved, even in the smallest of ways, is the best way to empower yourself and those around you.