In the now airing two-hour special , "Boomers$" Tom Browkaw discusses the impact of the the 78 million strong US residents born between 1946 and 1964. This dreaming and optimistic group actually declared they would be the generation that would "change the world." Yes, the special is worth seeing if you haven't already. But the question remains: Has the Baby Boom Generation lived up to their noble vision to change the world? Yes, they did bring the world hula hoops, awesome music, Woodstock, civil rights gains, unprecedented wealth and Tom Hanks. They but did they realize their dream to "change the world?"
Well, I guess that depends on what you think "change the world means?" If you still consider that "on their watch" the world still has
An overwhelming gap between the very rich and the very poor (Over 1 billion people in the world live on less than $1/day. Nearly half the world lives on less than $2/day. Every 3.6 seconds, another person dies of starvation! Every year 6 million children die from malnutrition before their 5th birthday!)
A clear lack of authentic community in the US and elsewhere
A disappointing lack of ethics among Wall Streeters and among the fickle Hollywood elite.
An astounding 27 million people in the world classified as living in some form of "slavery."
A sharp increase in broken families, divorce rates, teen pregnancies and people living behind bars.
An sharp increase in rates of depression and suicides. (Healthline reports over 17 million said to suffer from depression in the United States. Suicide is the 9th leading cause of death in the US according to a 1995 statistic.)
As the show concludes, Brokaw has the question returned to him. "What do you think of the Baby Boom Generation?" His response to the question of the boomer legacy: "Unrealized." The spin on the internet bloggers to Brokaw's conclusion. "Wow, that was unsatisfying!" "That was a copout!"
Browkaw says, "Now, at this critical crossroads in the nation and in their lives, what do boomers do next – and how do they get there? It’s a question that affects all of us and will for a long time to come."
So, can these retiring baby boomers still change the world? Or will their legacy be: Some great optimism, some solid potential... but they settled for bigger homes, fast food and comfort-giving technology? They were the hippies, the "Me Generation," the ones who brought us Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Bill Murray and the unpayable credit card Bill.
OK - here's some optimistic, but I think worthwhile thinking: The boomer generation still can change the world IF instead of accepting "Dad's retirement" they:
1. Discover and engage their God-given passions and spend the final phase of their lives deploying that passion for the good. (Here's where I'll shamelessly plug my own company.) Most won't do that on their own. At least find the specific focus, opportunity and courage to do so. They will need guidance. That's why we created the Endeavor Program. Yes, it takes some more work than an online assessment or quick one meeting. But, it can change your life and the life of many others.
2. Realize that almost all of us are happiest when we're serving others and knowingly making the world a better place. Yes, playing golf and dining out is fun... but how much more satisfying is seeing people have access to clean water, inner city kids getting to go to college, homes built for single moms......? Or even entrepeneurial companies with noble visions created? Community fostered? Families restored?
3. Actively decide what they want as their legacy instead of passively coasting to the end of life.... too busy to think about such things. As one of my football coaches used to say, "If you shoot for nothing, you'll hit it every time!" Why not take the time to actively decide sooner rather than later. "What do you want your legacy to be?"
4. Join with other boomers (and others) to creatively collaborate to do more together than they can do alone. The greatest community for baby boomers who still change the world won't come on golf courses or over drinks at Chiles. It will come between those who say, "Heck with what our friends are doing, let's make a difference together!"
If we would set a course to do those four things, the baby boom generation will truly be the " ageless generation who’ll live forever." Living on in a better world for our children, for those we care for.... and for us!
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