2011 -- One big year

Posted 12.27.11

SHAWVILLE, QUEBEC | We are nearing the end of the first year in which our society is being remodeled: the Boomers are stepping aside.

2011 was the year that the first wave of the generation which produced the ’60s reached retirement age. "Wave" is a good word, and it's just beginning. You and I are on the beach -- hear a strange sucking sound? Is the water all running out to the sea?

That's the metaphor. And, yes, we should expect something big from such a massive number of people leaving their productive posts -- and expecting pensions. Will their sheer size change things? What will we see happen to old age security plans and pension investments?

On one hand, this growing wave of retirees could revive our volunteer organizations. And as they pursue their interests in education and the arts, will we see various cultural efforts finally flower?

There are many positives -- this is not a generation known for its lack of initiative. The retirements will open jobs for the GenXs, finally, and they will also drag into being whole new industries, services, and policies.

A society which grows so quickly in one sector – retirement -- will change merely by the weight of those interests and proclivities. Merely having a large number of people who are slowing down, simplifying, turning inward, cultivating new paths, their "weight" will push all society along in a certain direction. A good one, maybe.

The whole world is changing, and the North American way is no longer the norm. We are especially becoming outsiders, from the rest of the world, given our government's anti-environment policies. In most things the Western world is no longer the trendsetter, so it will help us, our country, our relations with other nations, trade, our economy, if we have a more tolerant, more even-tempered society, thanks to an older, active generation.

This is the generation which pioneered the notion of Gaia, so the world will surely change under its influence. We would be wise to be alert.

And in a way many of us are getting ready -- by taking care of our own parents. In my crowd, this seems a common table topic -- how to deal with aging parents, with the generation before the Boomers.

Judging by history, the retired Boomers will insist on quality-of-life issues, and, of course, health care will dominate our governments even more than it does now. Boomers will insist on different infrastructure: bike paths, national parks, and public transit; they'll stimulate the travel, tourism, and education industries, and the arts should thrive as they participate as artists, retiree gallery owners, and collectors. They'll favour cafes and bistros -- day trips the local main streets. They'll support whatever catches their interests and fulfills their changing needs.

The boom we're seeing here in Aylmer right now is part of this wave passing through. Retirees are staying here, downsizing, while their jobs are attracting new, younger people with families, to fill the civil service ranks.

Hey, we're swimming already.

Copyright © 2011 Fred Ryan/Log Cabin Chronicles/12.11