INSPIRED ELDERS – Marilyn Armstrong

We are them. We are full of inspiration. We want to fix the world, end the Trump reign. Force congressional representatives and senators to do their jobs. No, really, that’s what we want.

The problem is the “elder” part of the title. We did this already. I did in personally with letters and protests and all that collegiate and post-college stuff. Garry did it on the air, with cameras, and the world watching.

Since retiring, we’ve been doing it online. Writing and urging people to vote. Warning people how dangerous not voting will be. Discussing issues. Making fun of The Bad Guys in DC. Personally, in conversation. Rationally, in words.

And maybe, after all this … just maybe we’ve gotten a few people here and there to take the issue seriously. Unfortunately, quite a few of them are not American and while they wholehearted agree, they can’t vote here. Oh well.

I can’t get my granddaughter to recognize that the stuff going on has anything to do with her. I’ve had old friends — from the south and that’s not a small thing — tell me that all reporters lie. When I pointed out my husband was a reporter and trust me, he never got up in the morning and went to work for the purpose of deluding the public, they went silent, finally responding with “Does it really matter?”

You mean … DOES TRUTH MATTER?

When the truth stops mattering, nothing else matters.

So we are inspired and I’m pretty sure we are going to remain inspired, but unfortunately, we aren’t getting any younger. I’m very glad to see so many fresh, new political faces. We desperately need them because the battle that is building is going to need a force behind it that isn’t old and tired.

Younger people must stand up, be counted, and become involved in the NOW. The world is forever changing, rarely for the better. We — my generation of boomers and pre-boomers — didn’t start this fire. Nor did our parents or grandparents.

Time for an anthem:

WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE


Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio

Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe

Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, “The King and I” and “The Catcher in the Rye”

Eisenhower, vaccine, England’s got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, “Rock Around the Clock”

Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland

Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, “Peyton Place”, trouble in the Suez

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, “Bridge on the River Kwai”

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide

Buddy Holly, “Ben Hur”, space monkey, Mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go

U2, Syngman Rhee, payola, and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, “Psycho”, Belgians in the Congo

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Hemingway, Eichmann, “Stranger in a Strange Land”
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion

“Lawrence of Arabia”, British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson

Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

“Wheel of Fortune”, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law
Rock and roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it.

Songwriter: Billy Joel
We Didn’t Start the Fire lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group


No one living today — or even during the past couple of hundred years — started the fire. Regardless, each person of every generation shares an obligation to stop looking for someone to blame and try to make this world better. Not only for yourselves but for every child who will come.


Do it for every child, all races, any religion or none. Do the best you can for the humans of planet Earth. Before the big giant head sends us all home.


If you don’t, there will come a time and I think sooner rather than later when there’s nothing remaining to be done. No number of inspired elders or youngers will matter by then. Do what you can while you have a world that can be repaired. It’s not going to wait much longer … if it is waiting. I certainly hope it’s still on hold!


FOWC with Fandango – INSPIRED
RDP # 84 – ELDER

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. Retired! Yay!

29 thoughts on “INSPIRED ELDERS – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Billy Joel’s song seems even more relevant today than it did when he first published it.

    I still can’t believe, after all that has come to light in the past few days that there are Republicans in Congress, pundits, Fox News “ journalists,” and his base that still support Trump and are macking excuses for his criminal acts. I call it malevolent stupidity.

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    1. And there I was, thinking the Vietnam War and Civil Rights and Watergate were a rough go, but Trump and Brexit have us beat. We had problems, but we believed we would win. OUR kids don’t believe they can win.

      We are more politically active, but we aren’t out there marching. I can barely drag my tired old body around the grocery, much less a picket line. So instead, I write and offer what I can that I hope will inspire someone somewhere. It’s what I can do, so I do it a LOT.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Sobering. And you’re correct, apathy in ‘our’ generation, and coming ones has to stop if America is to stand for what she used to…honor, ethics, honesty…etc. Good for you for putting a voice out there!

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    1. I think those of us who are parents are at least partly responsible for that apathy. We really let our kids believe we grew up in a much better world with far fewer problems. Maybe somebody did, but I sure didn’t and you can bet Garry’s was even more difficult. We wanted the kids to have an easier life and somehow, we thought if we made it sound easier, it would BE easier. Turns out, not true. They actually BELIEVE we didn’t have any problems. The truth really can set you free.

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    1. Garry wrote a piece (I think I’ll post it Monday) which is very personal and he has been reluctant to share. But you know, we grew up with “the silent generation” as our parents. Maybe the silence felt right to them, but it didn’t help us understand what that war meant to them or what it would mean to us.

      As parents, we told our kids that EVERYTHING IS JUST FINE. As if we didn’t really have any problems coming of age … which was totally untrue. All these things we don’t want to talk about are exactly what we NEED to talk about. Our kids, who didn’t hear it when they were young, need to finally hear that our world was no better than theirs. We just said that because somehow, we believed it would make their world easier for them.

      It seems to have worked in exactly the opposite way.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very depressing to hear that your granddaughter thinks nothing going on in the world affects her! She must not have any student loans! Or checked out the price of groceries lately, or gas. Or known anyone who needs an abortion. The southerners I expected to have weird views on news and truth, because they have to protect their vested interests, whatever they think those are. I don’t really expect to change the views of most southerners. But the young people are the hope for the future! Maybe they will become more involved politically as they get older and realize the importance of the government in their lives. Maybe there will always be a segment of the population that pays no attention to news or government. We just have to decrease that number by a small amount and democrats have a chance to win back the country.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kaity isn’t currently working, has no loans, her medical is free based on her mother paying the bill AND the groceries. She has a deeply unrealistic view of the world which I would very much like to change. But she’s going to be 22 in less than a month. This has to come from HER. Some kids take longer than others to get a grip on reality and some never get one. I can do no more than offer advice and hope for the best.

      I suspect she will change a lot in the near future. Her father was a slow developer too, but he got there. It’s hard to be patient, but there’s no other option.

      We need to make voting a little less optional, though my Aussie friends say that just because you make it mandatory doesn’t mean that people don’t make idiotic choices anyway. Their government is as bad as ours, but at least it’s parliamentary, so when they get a “no confidence” vote, they go straight to elections. We need that here, but that’s not how we are built.

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      1. Just saying that this gives me tiny little bit of hope for one of my nieces. She turned 18 in March, has left several (expensive, private) art schools because she only loves doing ONE thing and that will never be more than a pass-time and never make her any money. She lives quietly in Hotel Maman, stays whole days in her room with her computer, phone, camera and drawings, no job opportunity is ‘for her’, and although we all know that she really needs help as a truly depressed young woman, she blocks all advise on seeing someone….. IF she makes that first step there is hope but same as in your post, if there is absolutely no interest in anything going on in this world, HOW CAN THEY BE HELPED and be ADULT ABOUT ANYTHING?
        The parents lose their health over it, the father is a borderline depressive case too, mother holds it (just about) together…. How can anyone be ignorant of the importance that everybody’s vote is counting!?

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  4. As a fellow senior, I feel that is our job in life now. We have to hold their feet to the fire and we can do it with our writing and our words.
    Leslie

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  5. It’s an odd generation isn’t it? Our generation was all fired up and believed we could change the world. Maybe we’ll have to look to the children who are not grown yet and try and light a fire under them. Kids are often passionate about causes before they are old enough to vote. Let’s hope the world can hang on for them.

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  6. In all honesty, I’m sick of seeing baby boomers everywhere doing everything. I don’t think it’s healthy, but good god; it’s an active generation that doesn’t seem to doubt itself much. I believe it’s time for the younger people to take over — but Gen X hates us so that’s that (but I like them) and the younger ones? I love them and half believe if we’d just move over they’d step up things might start moving. Here, anyway, EVERYTHING is run by baby boomers whether it’s the artsy-fartsy nouveau Buddhist hippy First Nations stuff of Crestone and Taos or the ultra-conservative group that was recently elected to our city council. The guy in the White House now is one of “us” — and most of his base is “us” too. It’s just bizarre. Thanks for listening. 🙂

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    1. I sort of feel the same way and I frankly don’t get it. We are retired. I thought that meant the younger ones would step in and step up, but they haven’t. I honestly don’t know why not. I keep trying to figure it out, but I can’t seem to find any answer that makes any sense. I suspect we became a pretty tough group because we grew up in a generation of mostly elders who didn’t say anything and we learned to fend for ourselves kind of early. I know that my home life sucked enough that my primary childhood goal was to get out of there, on my own, as soon as humanly possible.

      I noticed, as my son was growing up, that neither he nor his friends seemed to WANT to leave. And neither does HIS daughter. Maybe it’s the underpaying economy, lack of a functional democracy, racism, massive stupidity, etc. ad nauseum. Or maybe as parents, we did too much for them and it’s all our fault. Even if it IS all our fault, we’re not going to live forever. Sooner or later, they’ll have to get off their duffs and do something if they want to have their OWN world.

      Cause we all is gonna die.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lots of the young people in Australia feel betrayed by the older generation. They have high student loans, no guarantee of a job anyway after they finish their formal education. If they can get a job, there is no job security anymore like there was when baby boomers amassed their wealth. They cannot buy their own home as baby boomer property investors have inflated the cost of housing. No one in government wants to reduce carbon emissions and so the world is being trashed. Nevertheless, I’m also encouraged when I hear some of our youth speak out for change. They are very articulate about the change that is required. Not yet stirred enough to take to the streets in great numbers to protest. They haven’t experienced conscription. Things are still a little too cosy for many. Many haven’t enrolled to vote because they see each political party as being as bad as the other. I have hope, but they need to say that enough is enough to this inter-generational inequality. And they can really only do that at the ballot box.

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  8. Sadly only too true. But you know, I often get quite ‘desperate’ reactions when I voice my concerns, opinions and when I raise discussions. I encounter pretty much everywhere only the tiniest interest in any form of ‘taking part’ and I’ve been told a few times that I come across as quite bossy when I voice my concerns…. A term I really don’t appreciate and which I defend being just so very concerned about the state of affairs we are in. But being blocked by silence, by non-committment, by shaking heads is really getting to me. Thank you for fighting in your corner and shouting out again and again what you feel and think – we need far more people like you – and not all of us can and need to demonstrate in the streets.
    I heard in a YT comment that T supporters might STILL be thinking that The Whole World is Against our Leader but I guess that at one moment no more funding money will come forth and maybe that will be the out…. One lives in hope.

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