That huge group of us now coming of age is pondering the question: What next? In our years as elders, we have the potential not just to be impacted by the unfolding of the future, but to help shape it.
Our mortality stalks us as we lose loved ones, bear illness and loss of capacity, and yearn for meaning. If we are to have a social support system so that others will be there for each of us when we have a need, we will need to invest our time and energy in learning together how to negotiate the increasingly difficult terrain that inevitably lies before us.
The times have never been more challenging. More and more our families, our nation and our global community are divided along racial, religious, ethnic and class lines. We urgently need a positive, universal culture that takes responsibility for the common good and constantly builds the connection among us all.
Human survival depends on a successful paradigm shift from selfish individualism and coarse competitiveness to interdependence and connection. A global network of evolving and responsible elders will help midwife the paradigm shift.
Even as we know how much we have learned and have to contribute, we increasingly encounter the sad impact of ageism and stereotyping. The social health of the country requires that we shatter these stereotypes as we redefine aging through the way we live, serve and inspire the generations to whom we are connected.
Intergenerational strife looms as fewer young workers are paying taxes to sustain the largest cohort of elders ever to occupy the planet. If we don’t give something back big time, intergenerational strife is inevitable.
We are living at the expense of the future as our debt grows and society’s infrastructure is neglected. The planet itself is threatened by global warming and eco-crisis. Because we care about our children and grandchildren, we will need to dedicate our lives and our assets for the sake of future generations.
Our families, our communities, our nations and the world need the compassionate wisdom of the elders --not as some abstraction, but as living lore that grows and evolves as we tackle our deepest concerns and learn together.
Today there is so much going on that competes for our attention and time. It is easy to get lost in the details and the distractions. Each day, we need to involve ourselves in moving forward towards our highest purpose.
Each of us has our own deep and compelling personal concerns about the future that can best be served in a community such as the Elders Guild.