Most Baby Boomers will be gone within the next twenty five years and the long future now belongs to generations younger than us. While we’re not done shaping human experience yet, my current conundrum tells me the time has come for me to trust the younger generations to do exactly what we did. Like us, they’ll find their way through the awkward dramas of youthful idealism and the end result will be good for humanity.
Today, a few months after my 59th birthday, I find myself realizing that I’m exhausted by some aspects of my idealism. This is a big deal for a Baby Boomer. We built our young adult lives on idealism. We knew we were here to change human cultures into people friendly entities that function peacefully and support the well-being of everyone. We thought our elders had been irresponsible with the world they handed us and we were stepping up to completely transform humanity in the space of one lifetime.
Coming from there, I’m quite surprised to find myself having a tough time forming solid opinions about new facets of long-standing social justice issues. I’m having a tough time even generating the desire to think these issues through. I’ve never experienced this challenge before.
The new facets of these social justice issues are the heartbeat of GenX and the Millennials. They’re issues such as economic disparity, the role of religion in society, gender identity and race relations. They’re important conversations and I want them to continue. I just don’t know how to participate in ways that haven’t already been proven to be only marginally effective.
I’m wondering when the cutting edge of social progress moved beyond my understanding and beyond my desire to participate. I used to be one of the people pushing that edge out as far as we could get it. I do recognize the beauty of this conundrum; it demonstrates in very real ways that we Baby Boomers are an effective generation and we have indeed radically changed human experience. I just never expected to move from the lead to the slightly bewildered middle.
Is this how it happens? Is this the beginning of that shift I’ve seen in some elders that takes them from being politically liberal or moderate to being politically conservative? Is this that point of aging at which their lives became so focused on their own emotional comfort that they started pushing against changes that support a kinder future for humanity?
I’m unsettled by the idea that this shift in my willingness to participate could actually be part of aging. For decades I’ve worked for the empowerment and appreciation of every human being. That’s my way of helping create a world in which the human norm is appreciation and celebration of each other and all of our diversity. That’s the future I want for humanity and I don’t welcome the idea that aging might lead me to undermine that future.
In facing this challenge to my idealism, I’ve felt naïve and vulnerable. I’ve again asked myself questions I answered long ago… Am I really in charge of my own life? Can I have a lasting positive impact on humanity? Where can I go with this?
And this is the answer I find within: In trusting the process of the younger generations, I’ll begin to see a bit of their vision for the future and I’ll find my way back to the cutting edge of social progress. It’s my favorite place to live when I understand how to be there.
Laughing Womyn Ashonosheni is a Healer who helps Millennials, GenX’ers & Baby Boomers live in ways they find to be delightful. You can see more about her work at LaughingWomyn.com