Friday, September 28, 2012

A Challenge For Baby Boomers

I wrote a previous article entitled "Confessions of a Baby Boomer." It was a kind of message to fellow baby boomers who want to charge of their lives and their futures rather than leaving them in the hands of the government or an employer.
Now it is time to speak to the Boomer Generation again. You know who you are. You were born sometime between 1946 and 1964. You (or should I say "we") form the largest generation of Americans there has ever been. There are about 75 million of us, and that is almost 25% of the total population of the country. By the strength of our very numbers we have had a permanent effect on the American culture, economy, religious beliefs, moral standards, ethics and politics. We have lived through and to one degree or another participated in the civil rights struggles, the Viet Nam war, Watergate, the assassinations of JFK, RFK, and MLK, the space race and the Cold War.
I have heard our generation likened to a pig in a snake. Imagine that a large snake, such as an anaconda, has just swallowed a pig. You can see the bulge in the snake as the pig moves further along the snake's digestive system. Ahead of the pig, the snake is its normal size, and after it, it returns to that size again, but in the middle, as the pig moves along, imagine the size of that bulge! We are like that pig. When we were young, we affected live around us drastically. The world will never be the same. We said, "Don't trust anyone over 30." Guess what happened to that, though. Some of us rebelled and "got stuck in the 60's," but most of us grew up whether we wanted to or not, and the bulge moved along.
Life kept on happening. The bulge kept moving. Finally, boomers are now starting to reach the age for Medicare, Social Security and grandchildren. It should be common knowledge by now that 10,000 boomers will become 65 years old every single day for the next 19 years. The bulge in the snake has moved again. Recently, a boomer told me, "We're all in the fourth quarter now." I wonder how will the generation who did not want to grow up face getting older.
It's probably too early to definitively answer that question, but you can get some preliminary ideas for working hypothesis. For instance, even though boomers are starting to reach the magic age of 65, a large number either cannot retire or simply don't want to. These days when boomers think of retirement, many of them don't think of doing like their parents did. For many in this generation, retirement does not mean stopping work and taking up stamp collecting or some other hobby or spending every day on the golf course or traveling to some exotic destination. Rather, it means continuing to work at a job of some kind, either the same one they always had or some other one.
Many boomers will work for as many more years as possible. For some it will be because they have to, but for others it will be simply because they want to. And why shouldn't they want to? After all, these are the people who dreamed big when they were young about changing the world bringing in the "Age of Aquarius" and all that.
Look at what boomers have accomplished as a group! Some boomers like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have changed the ways we interact with the world. Others such as Bill and Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush have changed the shape of the future for all of us. Then there are others not quite so famous. There are countless thousands of boomer engineers, teachers, clergymen, doctors, economists, factory workers, business owners (both large and small) and all manner of others who have a world of wisdom and insights from all their collective experiences. What a waste it would be to tell them that they have to just sit down now and start rocking on the front porch!
So, Fellow Boomers, here is a challenge directly for you. Whatever you're doing to make things better for yourselves, your families, your community, or your nation, DON'T STOP DOING IT! If someone tells you that you have to quit doing the job you have been doing all your life, it's not the end of the road. There are other jobs that need you. Your expertise is irreplaceable. If someone says that your too old or that they are looking for someone younger, then say, "Who needs them anyway?" Start your own life over. Work for yourself, or volunteer your time in your community, church or synagogue.

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