Get Back (To Where You Still Belong)
Bill McKibben and Akaya Windwood on Third Act -- and how to get their generation back in the streets.
Yes, I know, I’m back so soon. The week before last I shared my essay on Gus Speth’s new book, They Knew, the fallacy of collective guilt, and the need for intergenerational solidarity. My latest piece, an interview with Bill McKibben and Akaya Windwood for The Nation, goes deeper into what that kind of solidarity might look like, at a time when the generational dynamics of progressive politics can be complicated, to say the least. Their just-launched initiative, Third Act, is an effort to engage and mobilize Americans over 60 — i.e. their generation, the Boomers, and older — on climate, voting rights, and racial justice. Our conversation was lively, meaningful, and very timely, and I can’t thank Bill and Akaya enough for sitting down with me (on Zoom).
As a 53-year-old GenXer myself, I’m not quite in Third Act’s target “demo,” nor am I young enough — by a longshot! — to fit in with the rising younger generations (ahh, poor GenX, ever the neglected middle child; I’ll just sulk in the corner over here and make sarcastic jokes, as I secretly groove to the super deluxe reissue of Let It Be and the new Lana Del Rey). But then, maybe that in-between-ness gives us just enough independent, critical distance from those older and younger to offer an outside yet sympathetic perspective that might be, somehow, useful? I don’t know. I’ll check with my GenZ kids, ages 21 and 17, and get back to you. (I doubt they care much about GenX versus Boomers, we’re all just old to them.)
I mean, in all honesty, it’s hard to know what to say, as someone middle-aged or older, to young people struggling for justice, for basic human rights, that I too long took for granted. On some level it doesn’t really matter what words I say, if I don’t make good on them.
Like, right now, in Washington, D.C. — in front of the White House — five young adults, ages 18 to 26, are on their sixth day of a Hunger Strike for Climate Justice demanding that Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats make good on their climate promises. As I said, it’s hard to know what to say. The times weigh heavy, and words alone are nowhere near commensurate. But one thing we can all do, even though it feels inadequate, is to show up to support them, in person or virtually in daily gatherings organized by Sunrise Movement. And then consider what actions you can take.
Peace and love,