For many years I have been one of an increasing number of individuals across our country and around the globe dedicated to eliminating the discriminatory practices of ageism. As a thought-leader I often find myself in the unenviable position of educating people of all ages concerning the magnitude of the problem while simultaneously advocating for their participation in bringing about change.
In addition to my public speaking, I post blog articles which highlight the many issues and consequences stemming from a generally-accepted tolerance, apathy, and insensitivity experienced by far too many elders and young people daily.
In a recent blog, I referenced a story written by Elizabeth White entitled, “Positive Aging Needs to be for Everyone.” It appeared in a 2017 issue of Forbes magazine. Ms. White, a Harvard-educated career professional shared her personal experience with age discrimination and the dramatic impact it has had on her and many others of her generation. Many have had their careers, livelihood, and self-esteem battered, altered, or totally destroyed.
As a preface to the article, I referred to various terms currently being used as rallying points for different social movements which are dedicated to addressing age discrimination and altering the prevailing view of aging.
“Anti-Aging,” “Equal Aging,” “Positive Aging,” or “Ageless Aging” each paint a picture of older adults as active, able, willing to work, and ready to take on the issues impacting their lives while taking advantage of the opportunities that await them. Each movement sees ageism as a barrier to elders who want to follow their passions, fulfilling their missions, and discovering possibilities.
I’m happy to report that Ms. White’s article has elicited responses, stirring reactions about what she says and doesn’t say about self-empowerment, self-esteem, and the meaning of positive aging. While there are many thoughts emerging from the various approaches to address ageism there is also no singular path to discovering the process and possibilities for positive aging. The article strikes a nerve in me and many others because it speaks to the reality experienced by many older professional and blue-collar workers.
I believe that positive aging offers goal clarity and direction to people, although some have never been afforded the opportunity to reflect on their future due to their circumstances in life. Despite our best efforts to advocate for an optimistic future enriched with possibilities, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that millions of older adults feel beaten down.
I believe that the way to address ageism is through the power of intergenerational conversation and by using that conversation to educate, engage, and empower individuals in ways that inspire action and generate positive and effective change.
That’s why I support thought leaders and community conversations through my Wisdom Circles program.
Change starts with the power of one. Total transformation is cultivated through the power of many. If you believe as I and others do, let me hear from you and join me in making a difference.
While I will continue to shed light on the issues and possibilities as I and others see it, sometimes words are not enough. Other times it depends on who and how the message is delivered. I don’t think anyone has ever said it better that John Prine. If you believe as I and others do, let me hear from you and join me in making a difference.