A Call to Action (It’s Not What You May Think)

I have been feeling quite disconnected this week.  Some of this is no doubt due to my returning from a long-weekend away, where my routine was pleasantly upended and disturbed by nature and a different environment.  I have found myself distracted, impatient, and generally out of sorts.

gas_WarWithin my small circle of geographic touchpoints (gas station, store, pharmacy, coffee places), I have experienced new levels of awareness.  For example, gas prices are at an all time high in my area.  Yet, I put my credit card into the machine, fill up the car, and go on without the emotional charge of “YIKES!”  Seeing as I can remember gas wars from the 1960s, where gas was mere 20 to 30 cents per gallon, you would think I would be jumping up and down at having to pay over $3.00!  But no, just put the card in, take it out, and go on my way.

This is just one example of my disconnection from reality.  I read and listened to news reports this week of children being separated from their parents, put in cages, and held at the border.  All this on the orders of a man holding the position of highest ethics in the land – the Attorney General of the United States.  I was outraged!  I was outraged in the quiet of my living room.  I was outraged in front of my mobile phone feed.  I was outraged at my desktop.  I was outraged in my privileged solitary confinement.

Today, as I listened to news reports explaining what had occurred halfway around the world in Singapore, I felt that now familiar swelling of righteousness.  A friend posted a question on their Facebook page asking why people weren’t out in the streets protesting?  After all, mine was the generation that marched on Washington to stop the Vietnam War, to right the wrongs of years of civil rights abuses and segregation, to insure equal pay for equal work.  Mine was the generation that created newsworthy protests!

SAD_FACEThen I looked at myself in the mirror.  While the outrage burns within, I am no longer connected in any visceral way to communities of action.  I express my outrage through emojis.  I discharge my discomfort with pithy posts.  I find solace in reading what others say, especially those I agree with.  I have limited capacity to stay engaged in discourse or discussion with someone who holds a differing opinion.

In taking stock of this, I also see how my role as a leader in in my community has changed with age.  I am now on the sidelines of power.  I am dismissed not because of my beliefs, but because I have aged out.  Without a Twitter following or hourly posts on Instagram, I have become a relic, posting on Facebook for the benefit of a few of my friends.  A quaint caricature of an older person befuddled by technology and a step behind from whatever is current.

old_Protester

We are living in an age that is demanding the return of moral leadership.  What is my role as an aging American?  The tag line for the Center for Aging & Values is “creating purpose and meaning across the lifespan.”  I am spending time considering what this truly means.

Having experienced upheaval in the late 1960’s and through the mid 1970’s, I know the vulnerabilities of being a passive citizen.  Our country is seeing the effects of Timothy Leary’s instruction to “Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out”.  The evolution of the revolution is that we have eviscerated community and instead become separate and self-contained, not always individually, but in “only people like me” groups.

Developmental systems theory (Bronfenbrenner) posits that we each exist within a context of spheres of influence starting with our family and expanding to the community at large.  Within each of these spheres are values and beliefs that influence our behaviors. Where my generation has fallen short is in making sure those who follow us understand the need to stay in relationship with our inner circle and expanding spheres.

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With the rise of the Internet, what had historically been geographically and time-based spheres (i.e., neighborhoods and distance) evolved into immediate and unlimited connection.  It is my contention that this has resulted in a re-wiring of our connections, and in some cases, creating disconnection.

Action is called for right now.  Perhaps not the action of my youth, the burning of flags, the marching in the streets, but action nonetheless.  The channels of how that action now manifests are markedly different than in the 1960’s.  We must vote.  We must share our values and beliefs with others not just online but in person, face-to-face, heart to heart.

high-tech-high-touchWhile I was in graduate school I had the privilege of working at SRI, International.  One of the scientists there presented on his work creating the internet.  The title of his talk was “High Tech/High Touch”.  His premise was simple.  As wonderful has all the technology was, we absolutely needed to insure that we remained connected at a human level and acted in humane ways.

There is a visceral lack of humanity present in the world right now.  We are all witnesses to it because of our technology.  Now we need to bring some heart to the table.  This is the call to action that I am going to answer.   Let me know what you think.  Will you join me?

11 comments

  1. YES! You have spoken my thoughts. I am ready to participate and will start by sending your blog.

  2. on point as always-of course I will join you-as well as take to the streets-write-call-and GOTV!!!! Love
    ya babes

    1. We need to spread the word face-to-face and ask those we talk with to spread it to their children and grandchildren. You may already be on Twitter, but so many of our peers shy away from social media. That’s why I am suggesting we talk to young people and ask them to spread the word.

    1. Talk with your kids first and get them to use their social media accounts to connect. Share the values face-to-face and ask them to spread the word. I suspect you are not interested in getting a Twitter account. This is why I encourage transmission of values face-to-face and asking the younger folks to spread the word via social media.

  3. Where do we start. Check Colbert on YouTube
    His reflection on what is happening on our border is spot on. Letting our representatives in Congress know how we feel is the first stop. They may agree with us but they need numbers to back them up!

  4. As always, you said what has been in my brain lately. It is frustrating to not know what action to take. But this morning after watching as much news as I could stand, I suddenly thought of Amnesty International. Where are they in all this? So I contacted them – we’ll see what I get. Also, at the very least, contacting one’s representatives. And talking, talking, to anyone and everyone, especially those not in your immediate circle. Letters to any editor. Etc.

  5. “For those who want to do something on behalf of the countless little ones who are being locked up in the U.S., separated from their parents, I have called the Department of Justice (DOJ). It takes just a few moments.

    The DOJ’s main comment line is 202-353-1555. You can leave a message about why you oppose current immigration policies.

    “I oppose the separation of immigrant children from their parents which is torturous and highly immoral;

    I oppose the incarceration of children in detention centers;
    I oppose putting children in cages;
    I oppose children being treated like criminals;
    I oppose the decision to no longer consider women fleeing domestic violence or individuals fleeing gang violence as refugees and asylum seekers.
    I oppose all of this because what is happening is inhumane and unAmerican!”

    It’s that simple. Call, you can read the script, or say what you think, feel – remember that often its a member of staff listening, so don’t blast them, but be clear, strong, concise, heartfelt, authentic.. better chance of getting through..”

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