Is 20 the new 50?

A few years ago, a popular saying was “60 is the new 40.”

By Morf Morford

Tacoma Daily Index

A few years ago, a popular saying was “60 is the new 40.”

The term came from the demographic reality of a generation turning 60 that still had the energy, intention and resources to do things, like travel, pursue art or develop new skills.

Age, for a variety of reasons, was no longer the barrier it had seemed to always be.

60-year olds took to sky-diving, crafts and exotic travels.

Fast forward to 2020, with two men in their 70s pursuing the presidency and we see a nation divided on every conceivable line from race to gender to income to lifestyle, to faith, to opportunity and yes, by age, as never before.

Joe Biden could easily turn 80 while in office.

Mr. Trump is, of course, not far behind.

Both have their character, identity and values anchored in a world both long gone and utterly alien to most of the American, if not world, population.

Their vision of America, work, money or lifestyle could not be more foreign to voters under 40, let alone 30 or 25.

70 is NOT the new 50, or 40, or even 60.

With all the burdens, challenges, betrayals, chaos, deceptions and assaults of 2020, 40, maybe even 30, feels like the new 60.

And 20 feels like the new 50.

More than one person has described our era as a time when adults act like children and children act like adults.

We see far too many adults (by age), pastors, teachers and politicians, who seem proud of their cluelessness, crudity, ignorance and apathy.

Whether the context is public health, financial responsibility, marriage or even paying taxes, the mastery of avoidance and evasion has become the benchmark of success of what passes for adulthood in 2020.

Young people, who must inhabit a world of cultural, economic, moral and environmental decay we have left them, are standing up and insisting on being counted – and they will not give up.

There is a continuous war rarely noted in the history books, a war not over trade or territory or resources, but between the generations.

Old people declare wars, and young people fight them.

In other words, young people die to defend and protect the values, beliefs and resources – if not lives – of older people.

But thanks to the passing of time, in the simmering, never-ending cold war of the generations, the young will always win.

But this “winning” is never final, for they too age and begin to resist and resent the young.

And what they have “won” is the residue of what the previous generation left them; in 2020, that is a culture fragmented, a political system compromised beyond description, a legal/justice system corrupted by its own excesses and a climactic crescendo increasing in intensity with each new season.

We are in a season of dramatic change in the 2020s; 10,000 people are retiring every day, an average of about 1,000 people a day are dying just from COVID, a presidential election and a new (relatively young) Supreme Court Judge will impact the laws and policies of all of us in the next few decades, schools are in a constant state of flux in terms of options and possibilities, and of course, the economy is sputtering and recalibrating every day.

These policies, conditions and laws will dominate the employment or even lifestyle choices of younger people (or at least will impact them longer) far more than older people.

Those of college age and just getting their career footings in place are getting the education of a lifetime: resilience and resourcefulness are the ultimate transferrable skills.

In 2020 every aspect of work, education, job security, entertainment, vacations, retirement and much more is up for grabs.

Finding a job, keeping a job or even creating your own is entirely different from just a year ago.

Our economic and employment landscape continues to shift.

Even something as mundane as waiting in line for an event is nothing as it was.

Imagine a crazy juggler tossing several random things in the air or those people balancing spinning plates on both hands – and a foot or two – on old-time TV variety shows – that’s what our economy looks like.

To succeed you better be prepared to juggle, bounce, rescue or even duck the moving, if not flying pieces of this economy.

In other words, to flourish in this economy, prepare for anything, let go of your expectations of the way life or career should go and be prepared to ride the wave.

As an economy we need the strengths and skill sets of every age and every category of experience.

None of us have been here before, and no one really knows where we are headed.

We need every voice, every hand and every seasoned head of wisdom alongside the energy, and idealism of the young as we build together, piece by piece, the future we all want.

Who do we need to join together?

We need 70-year olds with the passion, vision and empathy of 20-year olds.

And we need 20-year olds with the wisdom and determination of 50-year olds.

In short, we need each one of us to put aside our generational, cultural or even religious identities and work together knowing that above all, we share a human destiny and purpose whether we are 20 or 60 or even not yet born.

We are at “tipping points” in just about every area of life.

Equilibrium and some kind of stability will be welcome to all of us.

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