The conventional view of retirement plays into the hands of those who view the Baby Boomers as the worst generation.
From 1946 to 1964 there were 76 million people born. They will retire over a period of 19 years. Do the math. 10,000 Boomers will retire every day. With every major life change there is opportunity. This wave of retirees have the opportunity to redeem their generation.
It’s no secret Baby Boomers are vilified in many circles.
The Huffington Post published an article in February 2014 with the title “This Is Why the Baby Boomers Are the Worst Generation Ever.” The concluding phrase sums up the article, ”we can soon bid farewell to that horrible generation.”
Gavin McInnes called Boomers “disgusting, selfish, immature” and did a video on “10 Reasons Baby Boomers are the Worst Generation.”
Will Nichols, in an article on Clash Daily, wrote: “As the Baby Boomer generation heads into retirement, and hopefully irrelevance, the time comes to reflect on their legacy.” His conclusion is that they deserve the title of The Worst Generation.”
An article in The New Republic dubbed Boomers as the Laziest Generation.
Esquire published an article which opened with a scathing paragraph regarding the shortcomings of Boomers. Here’s how it begins, “I hate the Boomers. I KNOW IT’S A SIN to hate, so let me put it this way: If they were animals, they’d be a plague of locusts, devouring everything in their path and leaving but a wasteland.”
Get the picture? There is no shortage of people who feel the world will improve when the last Boomer disappears from the face of the earth.
What happened? As a member of this age group I recall our youthful optimism. “Make love, not war” became the cry of many. The planets were going to align and the world would be a better place. But somewhere on the road toward the new millennium something went wrong. Bob Dylan was right, “the times they are a’changing” but they didn’t change for the better.
So here we are in 2016 and Boomers have become the de facto scapegoats for everything that’s wrong in the world. My purpose is not to defend my generation. My message is that we can do better.
We have one last opportunity to clear our legacy. That opportunity is wrapped in the word “retirement” and it means we need a retirement revolution.
The traditional view of retirement informs us it is time to sit on the beach and sip wine coolers. Retirement, according to our culture, is a time for old people to focus even more on themselves. After all, so the mindset tells us, we’ve worked hard and it’s time to get out of the way and sit in the easy chair.
Every Baby Boomer who lives out this idea of retirement further enhances the view that the Boomers are lazy and self-serving. Cruising on the Love Boat and playing shuffle board while the world wrestles with critical issues of poverty, immigration, and terrorism validates the growing negative view of Boomers.
What if Baby Boomers used retirement as a way to refocus time, money, and energy so they are part of the solution? What if my generation could use their retirement days to help others? What if the 10,000 people who retire every day flooded their community with a helping hand? Boomers could decide to make this last chapter of life the chapter of redemption.
Armed with free time, money, and maturity Boomers could become an army of positive change agents. Volunteer at the local hospital. Tutor kids who struggle to read. Join the Peace Corp. Find an organization which is making the world a better place and partner with them.
It isn’t too late to change the Baby Boomer legacy. But if it is going to happen we need a retirement revolution.
It’s time for the flower power people to step up instead of stepping back.
What will you do in retirement to help change the Baby Boomer legacy?
(Adapted from my article which was originally published in The Huffington Post March 3, 2016)