Wednesday, November 02, 2005

President's Letter: November 2005 - Activism At All Ages

President’s Letter, Larry Geller

A young social activist is full of fervor--ready to leap into the firestorm of protest to settle the injustices left in the world. The young activist is idealistic and believes, against or perhaps in disregard of the evidence, that simply through enough protest, the world can soon be set straight. We desperately need the energy of youth to bring about real change in the world.

In time, a vision develops, embracing more of reality and channeling youthful expression into creative action. Goals become more long term; the activist becomes a facilitator of change. In mid-life, the activist begins to listen as well as talk. We desperately need the creativity of the midyears to make sure change happens in positive ways.

As an elder, the social activist is able to embrace all sides, understand a broader reality, and bring about change through relationship and communication. The fire of youth is not extinguished, it is merely used in different and usually more effective ways. It is integrated with wisdom developed through time and experience. There is no substitute for having experienced the issues yourself, for having had your own feet in the fire. There is great value in mixing passion with compassion. We desperately need the wisdom and guidance of our elders if change is to have lasting value.

At any age, if we live with awareness, we have access to the fire of youth, the creativity of midyears, and the wisdom of eldership. The key is awareness and developing the skills necessary to be an effective advocate. One can be an elder at any age, nor need age quell the fire of youth.

Why be an advocate when it is socially acceptable to stay home and just watch TV? If you have to ask that question, it’s ok, just remember that you also have to answer it yourself.