At the March for Our Lives rally in Denver, Tom Mauser, father of Daniel Mauser who was killed in the Columbine High School mass shooting, told the crowd “This is your Vietnam.”
What he meant by his comment is this issue is the galvanizing force for activism for today’s youth just as Vietnam was for the baby boomer generation. Boomers started a number of powerful movements in the 60’s and 70’s including civil rights movement, the ecology movement, the peace movement, the women’s movement, equal opportunity movement, gay rights, and on and on and on. Yet, over time many boomers lost their voices of protest. Now is the time for boomers to find their voice once again.
Retirement offers a chance to re-engage with causes we were passionate about in our youth. My life-long interest in enjoying and preserving nature has its roots in the ecology movement of the 70’s. In high school I participated in a roadside cleanup project. The amount of trash we picked up along a stretch of road several miles long was remarkable. When we were finished for the day, we were hot, sweaty, and dirty. But the group felt great knowing we made a difference in the ecology of a small part of our town.
Part of what I believe the retirement experience is about is making the world a better place with our time, talent, and resources. There are ample opportunities to get involved in issues you care about. Passion, purpose and contribution are essential components of a successful retirement experience. But with record numbers of retiring boomers trading in their 40 work week for 40 hours of watching television, we may end up squandering the precious time we could devote to a priceless opportunity – making the world a better place.
Our lives are shaped by choices we make over time. We choose to speak up or we choose to be silent. We choose to get involved or we leave a problem to “other people” to solve. Whatever you’re passionate about, be it animals, the environment, now is the “call to arms” for boomers. Not to buy weapons or to raise militias, but to use our arms, legs, hands and hearts to make a difference in our lives and the lives of those around us.