It’s the ’60s Again…

By Don Arnoudse | Bio


My wife and I recently visited seacoast New Hampshire to celebrate
our wedding anniversary. After leaving historic Union Chapel, the scene
of our wedding 26 years ago, we were in a nostalgic mood as we drove
into the center of Portsmouth. As we left the car to stroll through the
town center, we heard quite a ruckus. To my surprise, the cause of all
the commotion was a crowd of white-haired people holding signs in the
town square and loudly shouting slogans in protest of the Iraq war.

I
was immediately transported to those days in the late ‘60s when I was
marching with my classmates in protest of the Vietnam War. We closed
down Michigan State University in the spring of 1970 and spent our time
in tents on the campus lawn engaged in intense discussions about
politics and war. We sang protest songs along with Joan Baez and Bob
Dylan. We erupted in fear and rage when a blood-covered young man ran
into our Tent City and screamed out the news that he had just driven
from Kent State where National Guard troops had killed student
protesters. We were engaged, we cared, we took action, and we did it
all as part of a dedicated community of people. We bonded, we had
marathon debates, we challenged and provoked each other, we took
courage from each other as we faced the authorities on and off the
campus. It was intense, it was tumultuous…it was the ‘60s!

As I
watched those aging protestors in Portsmouth, I realized how much I
cherished the fierce sense of connection I felt with my peers back then
in my college days: connection fueled by the passion we felt for our
country and the issues of war and peace in our world. It was a time
when I felt very alive. Now, it’s the ‘60s again. Only this time, it’s
us who are in our 60s (or close to it). We’ve spent the past forty
years living our lives, making a living, raising kids, paying the
mortgage, and doing the best we could to be good citizens in our local
communities. Some of us have stayed in touch. Others have moved on.
Some of us have died.

Now we’re well into the second half of our
lives and I’m beginning to realize that I am “imprinted” with those
experiences of community activism from long ago. I want, once again, to
focus on the big concerns facing our world—the environment, war and
peace, hunger, the education of our children, and on and on. And I
don’t want it to be a lonely quest. I don’t want to just write out
checks or volunteer on my own to help a cause. I want to be a part of
passionate, purpose-driven communities of people in the second half of
life, who, like me, yearn for strong connection with like-minded people
at this stage of life. I want to put to use all that I have learned in
my first half, the resources I have generated, the wisdom I have gained
from experience. And to put it to use in a way that leaves a better
world for my children and (someday) grandchildren.

So help me
out here. How many of you were “imprinted” in your first half with an
experience of strong community “bonding”? How many of you also want
your 60s (and beyond) to include community with other “new elders”
committed to making a difference on the world’s big problems? What are
you doing to make it happen? What do you need to support you in doing
this? Please take a moment to respond by commenting on this blog. Thank
you.

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