By Laura Baudo Sillerman

At 61 years old I find myself wondering about my generation’s role in the current election and our lives’ legacy as well.  We were, many of us, student revolutionaries.  Some of us were called idealists, troublemakers, hippies, long-haired freaks and several less flattering monikers.  Still, most of us paddled straight from college into the mainstream.  My journey went from diploma through investment advising company and into advertising.  Maybe, in my marching days, I helped to stop an unjust war and maybe my presence at that first Earth Day in Boston gave rise to some of the environmental activism that is being reborn.  Maybe I tried hard to stand for women’s capabilities and rights when I was the only woman in the creative department of that first ad agency. Mostly though, like the bulk of my boomer buddies, I forgot to make good on the promises I made to myself and my country.

We said we didn’t want the smug, self-interested, materialistic values that had created gulags for the less fortunate.  We said we didn’t believe in profiteering.  We said we saw a family of humankind and kind one at that.  We said we hated war.   We paid lip service to so much and clearly it served so little purpose.

I’m calling on myself and my generation to look around at the mess we’ve participated in and to look long and hard at what this election means to the world– and to think about what that says about those of us who meant to change things for the better.  There has never been an older generation like ours– never been one that was born in such call for change while as steeped in peace, prosperity, technology and terror.  We are more robust with a longer life expectancy than any people our age have ever been.  We have a body of creative work that will last forever—the music, film and writing of our generation is iconic and enduring and will play on and stay on the shelves.  We will not be irrelevant unless we choose to be and this election is the one in which we can prove this. 

I call on the members of the classes of ‘66 to ’76 (and those to the north and south of those years) to stand up and be counted for what we stood for.  I want us to fight for fairness to all people and to keep democracy at the forefront of our nation.  We are not about breaks for those more fortunate and we are not about window dressing as reality.  We look for substance in statements and we understand that some sacrifice for greater good is no sacrifice at all.  What do we mean to leave here to prove the energy and principles of our younger days were the fulfilled promises of our mature years?  I, for one, will not be swayed by the maneuvers of demographers who mean to co-op my thinking.  I am a woman who sees a nation of citizens, not a citizen who merely cares about the candidacy of a woman.  I am a member of a generation that meant to make the world better and I am counting on the members of my generation to work hard to do that through an active role in the coming weeks.

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