May 30, 2008



Aging agitators
by Jim Hightower

There’s an old cliché that smug right-wingers like to fling at us: “If you’re not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. But if you’re not a conservative at 40, you have no brain.”

Even if that’s true, there’s a third phrase in life that should be added to this aphorism: “If you’re not a radical at 60, you haven’t been paying attention.”

Ours is a culture that celebrates youth — which is not a bad thing at all since there is a freshness and idealism in the young that gives our society spark. Yet, oldsters, too, bring something special to the cause, for they are in a unique position to question authority, defy the corporate order and stand up for progressive values. Also — let’s face it — the clock is ticking, so it’s definitely time to break loose, make a difference… and have some fun being disobedient!

I was reminded of this enormous possibility for seniors to buck the system when I attended an event in Los Angeles recently with a group of old folks who proudly call themselves “aging agitators.” They work through an organization called Sunset Hall, and its members range from blue-collar retirees to people from the entertainment world.

Sunset Hall is not a place for the sedentary — it is an activist organization. Many of its members came thorough labor battles, challenged Joe McCarthy, marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., protested the Vietnam war, helped found the modern women’s movement and pushed environmental issues to the fore. They are not about to sit back now — instead, they continue to put their gray heads on the line, both for local and international issues, and they reach out to younger activists who might need a little support, guidance, and old-time oomph.

Being an agitator is all about attitude — not age. Connect with these freethinking elders at www.sunsethall.org.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work — and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown— visit www.jimhightower.com


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