F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote “There are no second acts in American lives.” Maybe that was so when the average American lifespan was less than 65 years. Today, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.7 years and rising. To put a fine point on it, there’s no lack of time to do more.
For Boomers, that longevity is both a relief and a challenge. We are hurtling past the temporal seam that marks our 65th year, but we haven’t yet even opened our second act. There’s still the opportunity to do something historic. Something great. We just have to figure out what that is.
Or, do we?
Pick up the paper (a quaint idea, I know) or check out online news sites or social media, and the answer is immediately clear. In fact, it’s impossible to miss. Whether it’s in our politics, our business culture or our response to societal problems, we are facing off against one another as if we are enemies. We are waging “unconditional warfare” on ourselves.
Not most of us, to be sure. But too many of us and, certainly, far too many of our so-called leaders. They talk and act as if all electoral and commercial competition and all disagreements, especially those dealing with the most difficult issues, must be decided in a winner-takes-all battle. They believe these are conflicts in which victory consigns all but one to defeat.
That’s not democracy, it’s combat.
In such a noxious environment, collateral damage is inevitable. The war-like behavior of a very small segment of our population is maiming the lives of tens of millions of Americans caught in the middle. It is ravaging their American experience and scorching their American Dream.
I call this condition “PTSD of the soul.” And curing it is the great mission of the Baby Boom generation. It is our second act. Our chance to stand tall in the long line of Americans who stood tall before us.
Peter Weddle December 1st, 2015