American poet Louis Ginsberg wrote, "The only things we ever keep, Are what we give away." I've always liked this quote because I think it suggests that giving back can do so much for the giver. It also reminds me that older Boomers who have left the traditional workforce have the gift of time -- a gift they can use, if they so choose, to give back. Those Boomers who have been fortunate enough to accumulate wealth, no matter how modest, might also choose to give back financially.
Not all Boomers are in a position to give back right now. The pandemic may have created a difficult health or financial situation that precludes generosity. For others, however, this is a time when Boomers recognize that the world is hurting and needs our help. Look around in your own community and you may see the ravages of the pandemic in food bank lines, closed schools and homelessness. If ever there was a time to give back, this is it.
For Boomers, "giving back" is also a way of showing gratitude for what we have accomplished in life. It could mean adopting a cause we feel passionate about, helping others less fortunate than us, getting involved with an alma mater, or doing something else for the good of society. Personally, I think the "what" is less important than the "why."
There are so many ways to give back that it may actually be somewhat intimidating. I think this article, "How to Help Make the World a Better Place This Year" from the Eblin Group is a good place to start. It does an excellent job of outlining some of the strategies for making a difference in your life, including picking a cause and leveraging what you have to offer.
There are those who believe the Boomer generation is defined by selfishness, but I believe the opposite is true. I think we are a generation that indisputably created positive change in our society, particularly through protesting against an unjust war, advocating for racial and gender equality and pursuing environmental justice. That passion remains with many of us today. Today, plenty of Boomers exhibit kindness to others and give back in any number of ways small and large -- through financial donations, volunteering, mentoring and more. Giving back is truly the Boomer's gift to society and the world.
Image: Kindness Contagion. Image created by Adam Niklewicz. Submitted for United Nations Global Call Out To Creatives - help stop the spread of COVID-19.