My generation began marching in the 1950s against atomic testing because it added Strontium 90 to the milk supply. I remember battling with my dad, begging him to let me go to a training meeting for a protest march to Trenton. I was probably 14.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, many of us added stripes to our battle gear at the 1963 March on Washington, the Mobe, the Vietnam Vets events, People's Park, the first Earth Day, and a myriad lesser walk-ins, sit-ins or write-ins.
It was always a source of pride to me that my generation insisted on doing the right thing. Even if we were wrong!
At 19, I desperately wanted to spend my life doing something that mattered. By age 30, that something had changed from saving civilization to saving myself and my baby. And, so it goes.
Now, quite a few years later, you and I are at a point in our lives where we CAN pick and choose how we spend our precious time. And, we're certainly finding interesting ways to do it.
I'm getting notes back from invitees casually mentioning volunteer activities. Linda just got back from a 9-day service trip to Honduras. I know she's been doing stuff like that for decades. Liz says she tutors and counsels immigrants at a non-profit social service organization. Karen promotes the Heifer Project.
What have you found in your life that really counts? How have you found the time to do it? What has it meant to you?
When our mothers were young, they had precious few choices in their lives, and few went far from home. Compare their lives with those of today's young American women.
You and I lived through the transition between the two, and some of us have the scars to prove it.
What do you want today's young women to know about what life was like for us when we were their age?
For me, it's this:
1. The only people who can call the 1950s-1960s "The Good Old Days" are guys. Women had no access to good jobs, birth control, real estate, car loans, their own checking accounts or legal protection from abusive husbands. They could not get in the best colleges, let alone law or medical schools.
On career night, my high school guidance counselor told me there were three career tracks I could follow: business/secretarial, teaching or nursing. I told her I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a war correspondent, a UN translator, or a doctor. She laughed. If that scene took place today, she'd probably be fired.
2. In the 1970s, many of us were conflicted over how much "power" we wanted over our own lives, and how much equality we really wanted in our marriages. Arguments over male/female identity and various roles in marriage raged into the night in many households, including mine.
3. Many of us were "firsts" in our families, our graduating classes, or our professions---first to graduate from college or graduate school, first to be promoted to management, first to divorce, first to postpone childbirth, first woman to own her own home, first to make a lot of money doing whatever we did. At least one of us sold a million dollars worth of real estate when that really meant something. Another became a judge.
Those accomplishments may not seem like much today, but they were big deals in the 1960s, 1970s and even the early 1980s. And, they took a lot out of us! Some of us are still recovering.
What about you?