Times Square: Why The World Needs A Boomer’s Heart
I’ve been driven most of my life by this sense of urgency – to sing my song full throated; to change the world full-throttle — before it’s too late for the world or for me.
But it was almost too late for hundreds, if not thousands, of New Yorkers and tourists in the heart of this town last Saturday night.
How close a call was this? How close is your death, and my own, at every turn? Al Qaida claimed credit for the attempted catastrophe: How far away is “over there” when those who hate us the most from so far away come so close to destroying so many of us?
I’m scribbling this on the subway here on Monday night. I look up at these people around me. We are all so precious, and also in such jeopardy, like children playing on a beach after an offshore earthquake.
And you may think me hopelessly starry-eyed, but I tell you the world needs a boomer’s heart, and it needs it now. What I mean by this is that those of us who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, and who were involved with trying to change things, we know something others who came before and after us do not. We had precious glimpses of what’s possible when people start living as if everyone wants more than anything else to give love and connect to something bigger than themselves. As if a world based on generosity of spirit is possible. We who were there know it’s possible because we tasted it! We may have allowed ourselves to be criticized or cynicized (if that’s a word) or ridiculed out of it, but deep in our guts the memory remains.
And because of this there are certain things we know.
We know in our kishkas that this poor earth is like a broken home that needs mending, and the only solutions are planet-wide solutions.
We know (and were reminded this past weekend) that, like it or not, unless everyone in this world is taken care of, none of us are safe.
And we know in our hearts that the jarring, shocking storms we see are not normal. And that the reports of the barbarians of melt at the arctic gates are all true.
And we know that, although some of us identify ourselves primarily as Americans, and call this nation “us”, the world has other plans. It’s barging in, knocking, banging down the door, and demanding attention.
And we know 9/11 was the beginning, not the end, of terror here. We’re fighting Over There to keep the terror over there, but it’s coming back, and we know it.
And there’s something else. Deep in our bones, frozen in memory cells we think we’ve lost, we know that there is no “them” and there’s no “there” either. There is only us, and we’re all here. There’s maybe a mere 6 degrees of separation between me and Rush Limbaugh; and maybe 9 between you and some cute kid over in Syria or Pakistan who just learned in school an hour ago that you and I are the devil. Oh yes – many still think in terms of “us” and “’them”. But we can’t afford to anymore, and the reason is simply because it’s self-fulfilling and self-destructive.
So I tell you my generation’s job is incomplete. We came here on a mission: To change the world for the better. To offer another way, the way preached by all the world’s great spiritual traditions.
What generation dared to dream bigger or better dreams than ours? And dared to live them for a while? Who were the young who refused to waste their youth? And who had better not waste the time that’s left?
So we shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed of our inner 15 or 20 or 25 year old, because s/he may be called up for active duty once again. That young kid knows how to make noise and waves. Knows how to bring attention to a cause, and make people listen up whether they want to or not. The world needs your inner audacious troublemaker, and now. We don’t need moderate solutions, but searing solutions that scald their way down to the radical root. We need to take our forgotten, neglected and rejected hopes and ideals and let them infuse, inform and inspire us once again.
And about our age now – well, what about it? The world needs the wisdom we’ve accumulated over time. Indeed, it needs our age, our outrage, and our courage. Our kids and grandkids may know how to work their iPads better than we ever will, but we still have a thing or two to teach and show them.
The world needs a boomer’s heart, because who better knows how to change the world?
Am I the only unrepentant hippie around? I know I’m a dreamer – but I’m not the only one.
Wait a minute! I feel a song coming on…