At some point you have experienced your life slowed, following an aging person. Prime example, driving! You quickly hit the turn signal as the grey Roadmaster (without the rims) slowly merges into your lane. You must get over; otherwise, you risk falling behind the flow of traffic. The goal is to reach your destination without undue delay. To follow the aged driver, you risk traveling angrily below the statutory speed limit.
The slow speed of the aging can make you wonder: When will they hang up and pass on the keys? Not only keys to their cars, also keys to long-held leadership positions.
It is clearly understood that many of our seniors are not out of the game. Many seniors are leading the way, encouraging an active caravan of hopeful followers. You have others who mentor and usher ahead enthusiastic leadership of new thought. Unfortunately, there are many seniors who continue to lead while creating a traffic jam. They bore the people. In the past, the same leaders were progressive. Now they seem to have lost speed.
The movement to advance the people appears to be fading. Cooperative progress is either gone or off-target. This holds true for businesses, churches, community-based organizations, and individuals alike. Aging persons can sometimes be egoistical, resistant to change, youth alienating, and plainly out of touch.
Looking over our history, youthful vision was often hindered by senior leaders. Prime example: the start and impact of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). It appears if you didn’t march with Dr. King, you are unable to have community vision. Take a real look at our community to see how youthful action can be depressed by the ego of our seniors.
It is widely recognized that people, as they age, become set in their ways-meaning: resistant to change. Many of our community institutions are making a real impact, advancing the people. Can a greater impact be achieved by changing the focus on how we reach out to the community? Focus on structure and efficiency. Focus on succession of new leadership. Change to be open and yield to new thought.
Today, the effort to galvanize youth involvement is a struggle. Community parenting seems nonexistent, replaced by fear and frustration. Youth are growing disinterested in community building, becoming lost in the artificial world of hustle and shine. The opportunity to teach our youth is often eclipsed by too much preaching. Pull your pants up! Take your hat off! That’s too tight! Speak right! You’ve heard it-or said it.
What comes less often is patience to sit and share wisdom with youth. Having the willingness to listen, to both learn and teach. Despite their behavior and language, our youth are intelligent. That intelligence can be reconnected to the movement of education and advancement. That connection is led by our older generation. The result? Alienation transformed to progressive action.
Our senior leaders cannot afford to be out of touch with either the youth or the people. How do blocks lined with churches remain plagued with vagrancy? Can there be a commerce district redeveloped for and by the people? Why do community institutions struggle to get more people support? Is leadership really up to speed with the community?
The older generation has a responsibility to the community. Our elders should be persistent in seeing that the following generation upholds proper morals and values, to teach and motivate advancement, to share benefits gained from their struggle. Never should we hear: “I got mine-get yours.” Our legacy has long stood on one generation increasing the speed of the next.
Are aging leaders losing speed on the movement? Some are, definitely. Others are doing great work, representing the people. If current leadership speed is lost, the younger generation is not blameless. We can indulge too much in our work and lifestyle to become involved in community building. The excessive pride of the younger generation can alienate our elders.
The younger generation can cause drag towards progress-too grown to accept elder leadership. Resistance to changing our behavior and attitude retards community advancement. To compromise is maturity. Times require you to: Pull your pants up. Wear something mannerly. Speak properly.
No matter the current state of leadership, the need to accelerate is paramount. Our legacy demands it. Our history provides the framework for progress. Now it is time for us all, old and young, to build our capacity, to build up our neighborhoods. That’s unity in the community!