“We’re just waiting for y’all’s generation to die so things can get better.”

Hearing those words took my breath away.

First, they were voiced by a child who came from my body. Second, I’ve never been able to wish anyone dead—not even a president I was vehemently opposed to. Third, “y’all’s generation” speaks to the Baby Boomers, a generation that just so happens to include this child’s parents.

Funk and I have been activists our entire lives, trying to do a whole-lot-of-good-for-a-whole-lot-of-people, much to our emotional and financial detriment.

I volunteered at a battered women’s shelter, answering crisis calls and retrieving women from the roadside and driving them to safety. After my two cesarean sections, I started BirthWays, teaching childbirth classes and attending births, and only to keep other women from being unnecessarily sliced open like I was.

Funk was the City Auditor for Kansas City, where he sacrificed many raises because he spoke truth to a Council who controlled his salary. And because of the politics, fighting-the-good-fight as Mayor meant we ran through his retirement money, which is why he’s still busting his chops earning a living at 74 years old.

After those breathtaking words were spoken, though they supposedly weren’t aimed directly at me, I asked said-child, “Really, my generation has caused all the problems we’re seeing today? What about dad bleeding for the people of Kansas City? Aren’t there a million more just like him?”

To that I received a, “No, dad’s an anomaly.”

Such nonsense.

When I think about what’s going on in our country, I admire the people in France so much.

There, when things don’t go the citizen’s way, huge numbers take to the streets, and they don’t give up until their voices are heard. In the 60s and 70s, American Baby Boomers did the same with Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, Abortion rights, and the Vietnam War.

It was a violent time.

We were born of people who survived the Depression, World War II and the enormous cultural shift that occurred going from the 50s to the 60s and were raised by parents who were living the residual effects of those traumas.

On top of their anguish, we bore the tragedies of our own time.

The shocking assassinations of President Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy, men whose only crimes were working to lead others from the chains of bondage. The unrelenting indignities suffered by Gloria Steinem as she raised a revolution for women. Kent State. Jackson State. The broken hearts from fifty-eight thousand brothers and sisters wiped out in Vietnam Nam, and the viciousness of a divided country from that senseless war.

And yet we chose to rise up strong.

Became powerhouses. Leaders among leaders. It seems that carrying our elder’s load on top of our own made us passionate and fierce.

Like the people in France, we took to the streets.

Many songs were written during this time, encouraging us to be respectful, but to not give up fighting for what was right. The following excerpt speaks to this.

What a field day, what a heat
Must have been a thousand people standing in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs

And we got to stop children, what′s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down

Politicians are taking about what a drag the kids are
Cause they got the guts to get out in the
Streets and tell the truth every day

But if we don’t do it nobody else is gonna

But you know if we can′t do it with a smile on our face
If we can’t do it with love in our hearts then we ain′t got no right to do it
Because it just means we ain’t learned nothing yet
We′re supposed to be some kind of different

—Stephen Stills in 1971.

Having lived through that era, I was stunned when Roe vs Wade was overturned.

One. Really? How could it be that the witch hunt was still alive and strong in the year 2022?

Two, where were the women of childbearing age when Roe vs Wade was reversed? Why didn’t they stay on the streets until that reversal was corrected? Can you imagine what would go down in France if abortion was suddenly illegal? Or if those who’d fought to legalize it in American hadn’t been successful?

I’ve never been one to tolerate apathy.

I’m typically a first responder when anyone I love needs lifted up, and I wouldn’t dream of not continuing to help until the wobbly person was back on their feet. That said, I’m out of there if I’m doing more heavy lifting than they are.

So I say to the generations who’ve come after me. Stop with the finger pointing already!

Pick up the baton or don’t!

But seriously? To hear haughty statements, like, “Okay Boomer” —a catchphrase that is so prolific that it has made its way to Wikipedia —or that you’re “just waiting for us to die?” Besides being incredibly rude, all it does is proliferate agism.

In my 65 years on earth, I’ve found that I’m more successful persuading others around to my way of thinking if I step with kindness when I speak. Getting older means turning experience into wisdom. Aging should be seen as the gift that it is. Every generation thinks they’re doing better than the one before it—as well they should be—we have a responsibility for it to be that way.

It’s called evolution.

The Beatles said, “Come together, right now, over me.” I’m glad to see people coming out for Gaza, even if it is a confusing situation. Still, the French protest everything, and Americans need to continue doing the same. Women’s Rights just took an enormous hit and it needs to be rectified immediately.

Here’s to you! if you’re actively working to enrich your life and the lives of others. After all, we are all connected. When one of us is in pain, we’re all hurt. As some of the Buddhist women in my writer’s group have shared with me, life is about suffering. The real test is finding joy, amidst the sorrows.

The Photo. Funk, his campaign supporters and me, standing up to the media in the final days of the mayoral election, 2007.