Come Together, Right Now - A Call to Action
By Linda M. Sittler
I don’t know about you, but I always like to consider the glass half full; not half empty. And when it comes to living with elderly parents or grown children, a good attitude takes me a long way.
Alright, call me a “Pollyanna.” Tell me I’m living in “La La Land.” It’s okay. I deserve it. I agree. Besides, “La La Land” can be a much happier place than the real world, so I prefer to remain there for much of the time. You are welcome to have your own opinions, but as for me, I don’t like dwelling on the harsh realities of my folks’getting old and dying, or even worse, realizing that I am not getting any younger myself.
So I don’t often discuss wheelchairs or bunion appointments, Medicare or laxatives; I prefer to look at the lighter, brighter side of our precious days together. The sandwich household goes much better with a spoonful of simple humor.
That is why I’ve been known to “make light” of the lives of baby boomers, particularly when caught in a sandwich household. However, don’t imagine that I never get serious. I do; and now seems to be the perfect time and place.
In August of 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated major cities in several states along the Gulf Coast, causing countless loss of lives, homes, and communities. In an instant, thousands of Americans went from normal, everyday life to sudden, devastating homelessness, being called “refugees,” as if they were from a third world country.
These friends and neighbors, the Gulf Coast citizens, suddenly left a world of cell phones, televisions and cable TV to trek through diseased waters afloat with bodies, without any food or drink, no change of clothes, no homes, cars, or possessions of any kind.
I’m sure you have your own thoughts about all of it, but as for me, this disaster has awakened some deep feelings that have been simmering inside for quite some time. The first feeling was of pure fear—that same fate could have befallen any one of us. We trick ourselves into believing that our lives are secure. Even in this land of plenty, where we take so much for granted, everything can be wiped out instantly, in a sudden, cataclysmic event.
The second strong feeling was of compassion; that empathy that lies dormant within the hearts of baby boomers. The floating bodies and the suffering survivors are truly our brothers and sisters. Many victims are still missing at this writing. It is doubtful that they will ever be found.
Hurricane Katrina was a “wake up call” for baby boomers. Our lives are only hanging by a thread; subject to change at any moment. It is time to think about what is really important.
Do we still live with the values and ideals we once believed? If we died tomorrow would we be satisfied with what we’ve done for others and what we’ve given to the world?
Because I have reached that “certain age,” I tend to slip into complacency, thinking that radical ideals are for the young. However, I don’t see any “young” standing by to pick up the slack from us baby boomers. The urgency of Hurricane Katrina calls us all out of comfy hibernation and into action.
We boomers can step in to make a huge difference. Remember the 80’s song, “We Are the World” and the “Hands Across America” effort? We showed solidarity with all of our brothers and sisters back then. We’ve always been radical about caring and sharing. Now is no time to put our ideals on the shelf.
This country needs us to take action. Seventy six million strong, we boomers are the largest, most powerful group in the land. By our numbers, we are the sleeping giant; we can instill great hope in the broken lives and shattered dreams of people like us.
Let’s get together and do our part—right now. If every one of us gives $100 to the Red Cross, imagine the immense difference. If we don’t have $100, we can collect it from our friends and colleagues, start a fundraiser; answer phones for the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. Let’s be creative problem solvers; we always were before.
Together we will touch devastation with a huge dose of baby boomer compassion. Now is the time; this is the place. Alone we can do nothing; together we can make miracles out of broken lives and communities. Why should we just be known as the largest generation. Our compassion and radical efforts can also make us the best generation. We can all do this--together.