Today they announced that the OJ confession book won’t be published
and he won’t get the limelight on Fox Television. This is a great
example of the kind of change that can come about when enough people
‘take on’ the system or the culture and take a stand. It is to Rupert
Murdoch’s credit that he was listening.
think it is important, however, to take note that this doesn’t have to
be a one-time, one-event happening. I have been suggesting that if
enough of us take a stand for a positive context of aging, we can
transform the culture for everyone. Moreover, I have suggested that if
we don’t transform the culture of aging from one of decline to one of
possibility, then the same ‘critical mass’ phenomena that can produce
positive breakthroughs can become a collective voice of resignation and
massive amounts of human suffering.
OJ was a product of a sensationalistic media machine, a spectator
society, the seductive force of a bandwagon, and, perhaps, a shared
lack of responsibility on the part of all of us for the consequences of
our choices as consumers of media and how we participate in day-to-day
conversations. Just as the ‘hallway’ conversations in any organization
create the reality as much as or more than the official decisions made
behind closed doors and in meetings, so too do the conversations we
have in the coffeehouse shape the practical reality of our society.
As we learned in the 1960s and 1970s, when people stop being
observers and begin to ‘walk their talk’, big changes happen—whether it
be a civil rights movement, an end to a war in Viet Nam or the
dethroning of a President after Watergate. The point is that people do
create the culture—the ‘way it is’—through conversations every day.
When we are cynical, resigned or take on the role of ‘devil’s
advocates’, we participate in perpetuating the status quo. When we
communicate with those that are accountable, when we make our
commitments clear, when we speak with our wallets and carry our passion
into everyday conversations, then reality becomes malleable and
previously unreasonable and even impossible-to-imagine changes can and
In his recent best-selling book The Tipping Point, Malcolm
Gladwell pointed to examples of sudden shifts happening in society when
an idea, product or movement reaches a critical mass of individuals.
Ideas that are marginal or on the fringe one day can become mainstream
and ‘of course’ almost over night. We forget that ‘women’s rights’ were
a strange idea and very unlikely to come about less than a century ago.
Leaders in the women’s movement worked for several decades until
suddenly, within less than a 10-year period beginning with the modern
Feminists, this all changed so that few remember a time when women were
not to be considered ‘equal’. While it may take longer for particular
practices and circumstances to change (such as membership in exclusive
clubs or equal pay for equal work), there is no longer a question of it
happening. It is only a matter of time.
I propose the same opportunity and challenge exists with us today
related to how we view and relate to older persons and how we ourselves
are relating to and experiencing the aging process. I am calling for a
world in which we can enthusiastically look forward to aging, where who
we are is more important than how old we are, and where the end of life
is experienced as having as much or more possibility as any other time
in life. With 70 million of us entering into the last third of our
lives, we have more than enough human consciousness and energy to
transform the culture in which we are aging—to clean up the messes
around us before we die!!!
If we can stop OJ and stop a huge money-making opportunity in its tracks on principle,
then it is not too much to imagine we can change the paradigm of aging.
I can think of no other legacy that would be more empowering and
enlivening to those who follow than to know that getting older is ‘good
news’, a positive experience and not something to be feared or denied.