An End to Generational War?

By Marc Freedman

CEO and Founder, Encore.org

In a time when the divides in our society are so raw and exposed, there may be one historic fracture that’s healing. A new nationwide survey conducted for Encore.org finds little interest in generational war. On the contrary, most Americans see cooperation between young and old as a source of national strength.

That would make the late John W. Gardner smile.

Gardner, an inveterate and lifelong social entrepreneur, became Lyndon Johnson’s Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, where he implemented Medicare and many other groundbreaking reforms. He then went on to found Independent Sector and Common Cause, to help establish what is now AARP Experience Corps and Encore.org, and to write a series of books on leadership and civil society.

And he did all that after the age of 50.

As Gardner said just a year before he died, “All my feelings about the release of human possibilities, all of my convictions about renewal are offended by the widely shared cultural assumption that life levels off in one’s 40s and 50s and heads downhill, so that by 65 you are scrap heap material.”

Today there are tens of millions of Americans over 50 who reject the “scrap heap” view of aging. Instead they are eager to devote their time and energy to help young people thrive. And today’s young people want and need their support.

That’s why Encore.org is launching Generation to Generation, a campaign to mobilize 1 million people over the age of 50 to show up for kids, support innovative pilots to bring generations together in ways that make lives better for all, and spread the word about intergenerational collaboration in America.

I’ll tell you how you and your organization can get involved at the 2016 Independent Sector Conference’s closing plenary, the John W. Gardner Leadership Awards Luncheon.

Let the healing begin!

Marc Freedman is CEO and founder of Encore.org and the author, most recently, of The Big Shift.